Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Robert Becker


In 1999, after several exploratory meetings, the college administration established an ad-hoc interdisciplinary assessment committee to begin a conversation about what students were taught and how faculty knew what was learned and what was not. At the first meeting of this committee, composed of representatives of the college’s seventeen teaching departments, the library, student affairs, institutional planning, research, and assessment, and academic affairs, several impediments to a formalized college-wide assessment initiative immediately became apparent. While a culture of informal assessment already existed as instructors daily grappled with effectively teaching their students, the notion of a widespread institutionalized plan was alien. We faculty members posed such questions as: “What constitutes formal assessment? How might we begin to communicate our needs and concerns given the differences between our disciplines?” Simply, we were unsure of how to talk to each other about the very thing that unified us as faculty members, the teaching that we did day in and day out.


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