External reviews of higher education institutions focus on verifying or clarifying performance and results based on mission, criteria, or clearly stated or implied set(s) of standards. Moreover, there is increased interest in program-level accreditation to support and demonstrate enhanced quality; the review process at this level also is based on meeting internal and external criteria and/or standards. The Center for Psychology in Schools and Education (1997) recommends that effective learning should include multiple assessments for diagnostic, process, and outcome purposes. There are national and international associations who advocate certain assessment strategies to ensure appropriate documentation of student performance; however, because these are not involved in the accreditation or audit process the strategies may or may not be elements of the criteria used for review purposes. Organizational theory suggests that organizational behavior is based on previous reality generated from the stream of experience; previous experience argues for regulatory compliance for fear of sanction ranging from conditions, such as refusing reaffirmation or granting of initial approval. Indicators and metrics in this minimaxing regime prioritize data for performance reviews over accurately measuring student learning. Universities thus err on the side of caution, focusing more on traditional testing methodology instead of recognizing the usefulness of different assessment techniques as feedback that enhances student learning as well as documenting student learning itself. This paper discusses the tension between regulatory compliance and good design for student learning and its effect on assessment strategies. It also posits suggestions on how to mitigate some of the effects in order to balance institutional, faculty, and individual learner needs.
|Keywords:||Assessment Strategies, Learner Outcomes, Minimaxing Regime, Institutional Accreditation, Programmatic Accreditation, Quality Audit|
Associate Professor, Education Leadership and Special Education Department, Monmouth University, Tinton Falls, New Jersey, USA
Assistant Professor, Metropolitan State College, Empire State College, State University of New York, New York City, NY, USA
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