Good Read: Meanings and Metrics – by David Scobey

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how assessment drives learning–often in ways that aren’t aligned with the goals of liberal education.  I’ve also observed how very little meaning-making follows data collection, yet the act of collecting the data is changing how educational experiences are designed.  In our quest to legitimize higher education we are adopting practices that sometimes counter our values for equity and inclusive excellence.  In this piece, David Scobey gives voice (from the humanist perspective) to many of the ideas that have bouncing around in my head.  He makes the argument that humanists are best placed to design assessment strategies for liberal education because they best understand the value of it.  If those in the humanities don’t engage in the work, technocratic approaches that value efficiency and growth will dictate the measures.  If you haven’t yet, read the piece at Inside Higher Ed.

My favorite snippets:

…the outcomes that can be most readily measured seem to us the least salient: informational content in a sub-discipline, performance of competent analyses according to check-listed rubric…

…the most powerful learning in the humanities takes place in ways that are meandering, iterative, self-reflexive, and unpredictable…

…Precisely because others have their own reductionist agendas of how to measure success in higher education, we need to offer our own vision of means and ends. The most self-damaging response we can make is to build a defensive bulwark of guild privileges around ourselves….





About Dr. J. Metzker

I believe in the power of a liberal education to transform individuals and society. I am currently the Executive Director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. Formerly, I led a community engagement initiative and held a full professorship in chemistry at a public liberal arts university. I am a proud product of The Evergreen State College.
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One Response to Good Read: Meanings and Metrics – by David Scobey

  1. Reminds me of a quote I saw in another article in Inside Higher Ed: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein

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