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Abstract

Assessment of student learning and academic program review are requirements for institutional accreditation. Faculty tend to "push back" against this work because it feels more like a mandate for accountability rather than a natural part of instruction. In this chapter, I describe the ways in which embedded assessment served within our program documentation system, and I provide examples of what this type of assessment looks like from the work our department had accomplished in the last year. My intention here is to pose the idea of using embedded assessment as an alternative model, or a supplement to the traditional models, for addressing academic assessment. I also offer a discussion about the validity of this assessment methodology. Current literature on educational reform tells us that the most influential change forces are those that can remain balanced in times of greatest uncertainty and flux, such as the harsh economic climate and competitive global market we are experiencing now. Frameworks for reform include a combination of theoretical and applied practices, for instance, those that: 1) support working environments that function on the edge between chaos and structure (complexity theory), Fullan (1999); 2) involve people working together in interdisciplinary groups (evolution theory of relationships), Fullan (1999); and 3) rely on working through discrepancies in professional perceptions in order to make conceptual changes (Piaget’s theory of intellectual development), Wadsworth (1971) and Stepans et al., (2001). The embedded assessment indicators in this study show the approach aligns well with these change theories, thus providing further evidence that this alternative model provides a robust, and humanized, solution to the difficulties of implementing and sustaining institutional accountability.

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