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Contents contributed and discussions participated by Gary Brown

Gary Brown

Sincerity in evaluation - highlights and lowlights « Genuine Evaluation - 3 views

  • Principles of Genuine Evaluation When we set out to explore the notion of ‘Genuine Evaluation’, we identified 5 important aspects of it: VALUE-BASED -transparent and defensible values (criteria of merit and worth and standards of performance) EMPIRICAL – credible evidence about what has happened and what has caused this, USABLE – reported in such a way that it can be understood and used by those who can and should use it (which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s used or used well, of course) SINCERE – a commitment by those commissioning evaluation to respond to information about both success and failure (those doing evaluation can influence this but not control it) HUMBLE – acknowledges its limitations From now until the end of the year, we’re looking at each of these principles and collecting some of the highlights and lowlights  from 2010 (and previously).
  • Sincerity of evaluation is something that is often not talked about in evaluation reports, scholarly papers, or formal presentations, only discussed in the corridors and bars afterwards.  And yet it poses perhaps the greatest threat to the success of individual evaluations and to the whole enterprise of evaluation.
Gary Brown

Measuring Student Learning: Many Tools - Measuring Stick - The Chronicle of Higher Educ... - 2 views

  • The issue that needs to be addressed and spectacularly has been avoided is whether controlled studies (one group does the articulation of and then measurement of outcomes, and a control group does what we have been doing before this mania took hold) can demonstrate or falsify the claim that outcomes assessment results in better-educated students. So far as I can tell, we instead gather data on whether we have in fact been doing outcomes assessment. Not the issue, people. jwp
    The challenge--not the control study this person calls for, but the perception that outcomes assessment produces outcomes....
Gary Brown

Cross-Disciplinary Grading Techniques - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 1 views

  • So far, the most useful tool to me, in physics, has been the rubric, which is used widely in grading open-ended assessments in the humanities.
  • This method has revolutionized the way I grade. No longer do I have to keep track of how many points are deducted from which type of misstep on what problem for how many students. In the past, I often would get through several tests before I realized that I wasn’t being consistent with the deduction of points, and then I’d have to go through and re-grade all the previous tests. Additionally, the rubric method encourages students to refer to a solution, which I post after the test is administered, and they are motivated to meet with me in person to discuss why they got a 2 versus a 3 on a given problem, for example.
  • his opens up the opportunity to talk with them personally about their problem-solving skills and how they can better them. The emphasis is moved away from point-by-point deductions and is redirected to a more holistic view of problem solving.
    In the heart of the home of the concept inventory--Physics
Gary Brown

A Final Word on the Presidents' Student-Learning Alliance - Measuring Stick - The Chron... - 1 views

  • I was very pleased to see the responses to the announcement of the Presidents’ Alliance as generally welcoming (“commendable,” “laudatory initiative,” “applaud”) the shared commitment of these 71 founding institutions to do more—and do it publicly and cooperatively—with regard to gathering, reporting, and using evidence of student learning.
  • establishing institutional indicators of educational progress that could be valuable in increasing transparency may not suggest what needs changing to improve results
  • As Adelman’s implied critique of the CLA indicates, we may end up with an indicator without connections to practice.
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  • The Presidents’ Alliance’s focus on and encouragement of institutional efforts is important to making these connections and steps in a direct way supporting improvement.
  • Second, it is hard to disagree with the notion that ultimately evidence-based improvement will occur only if faculty members are appropriately trained and encouraged to improve their classroom work with undergraduates.
  • Certainly there has to be some connection between and among various levels of assessment—classroom, program, department, and institution—in order to have evidence that serves both to aid improvement and to provide transparency and accountability.
  • Presidents’ Alliance is setting forth a common framework of “critical dimensions” that institutions can use to evaluate and extend their own efforts, efforts that would include better reporting for transparency and accountability and greater involvement of faculty.
  • there is wide variation in where institutions are in their efforts, and we have a long way to go. But what is critical here is the public commitment of these institutions to work on their campuses and together to improve the gathering and reporting of evidence of student learning and, in turn, using evidence to improve outcomes.
  • The involvement of institutions of all types will make it possible to build a more coherent and cohesive professional community in which evidence-based improvement of student learning is tangible, visible, and ongoing.
Gary Brown

Duncan: Rewarding Teachers for Master's Degrees Is Waste of Money - The Ticker - The Ch... - 1 views

  • Arne Duncan, said state and local governments should rethink their policies of giving pay raises to teachers who have master’s degrees because evidence suggests that the degree alone does not improve student achievement.
    distinguishes between outcome and impact and/ or illustrates the problems of grades/degrees as credible outcome.
Gary Brown

Researchers Criticize Reliability of National Survey of Student Engagement - Students -... - 3 views

  • "If each of the five benchmarks does not measure a distinct dimension of engagement and includes substantial error among its items, it is difficult to inform intervention strategies to improve undergraduates' educational experiences,"
  • nly one benchmark, enriching educational experiences, had a significant effect on the seniors' cumulative GPA.
  • Other critics have asserted that the survey's mountains of data remain largely ignored.
    If the results are largely ignored, the psychometric integrity matters little.  There is no indication it is ignored because it lacks psychometric integrity.
Gary Brown

Home - Journal of Assessment and Accountability Systems in Educator Preparation - 1 views

    a new journal to note
Gary Brown

Views: Asking Too Much (and Too Little) of Accreditors - Inside Higher Ed - 1 views

  • Senators want to know why accreditors haven’t protected the public interest.
  • Congress shouldn’t blame accreditors: it should blame itself. The existing accreditation system has neither ensured quality nor ferreted out fraud. Why? Because Congress didn’t want it to. If Congress truly wants to protect the public interest, it needs to create a system that ensures real accountability.
  • But turning accreditors into gatekeepers changed the picture. In effect, accreditors now held a gun to the heads of colleges and universities since federal financial aid wouldn’t flow unless the institution received “accredited” status.
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  • Congress listened to higher education lobbyists and designated accreditors -- teams made up largely of administrators and faculty -- to be “reliable authorities” on educational quality. Intending to protect institutional autonomy, Congress appropriated the existing voluntary system by which institutions differentiated themselves.
  • A gatekeeping system using peer review is like a penal system that uses inmates to evaluate eligibility for parole. The conflicts of interest are everywhere -- and, surprise, virtually everyone is eligible!
  • accreditation is “premised upon collegiality and assistance; rather than requirements that institutions meet certain standards (with public announcements when they don’t."
  • Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that many accredited colleges are adding little educational value. The 2006 National Assessment of Adult Literacy revealed that nearly a third of college graduates were unable to compare two newspaper editorials or compute the cost of office items, prompting the Spellings Commission and others to raise concerns about accreditors’ attention to productivity and quality.
  • But Congress wouldn’t let them. Rather than welcoming accreditors’ efforts to enhance their public oversight role, Congress told accreditors to back off and let nonprofit colleges and universities set their own standards for educational quality.
  • ccreditation is nothing more than an outdated industrial-era monopoly whose regulations prevent colleges from cultivating the skills, flexibility, and innovation that they need to ensure quality and accountability.
  • there is a much cheaper and better way: a self-certifying regimen of financial accountability, coupled with transparency about graduation rates and student success. (See some alternatives here and here.)
  • Such a system would prioritize student and parent assessment over the judgment of institutional peers or the educational bureaucracy. And it would protect students, parents, and taxpayers from fraud or mismanagement by permitting immediate complaints and investigations, with a notarized certification from the institution to serve as Exhibit A
  • The only way to protect the public interest is to end the current system of peer review patronage, and demand that colleges and universities put their reputation -- and their performance -- on the line.
  • Anne D. Neal is president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The views stated herein do not represent the views of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, of which she is a member.
    The ascending view of accreditation.
Gary Brown

Community Colleges Must Focus on Quality of Learning, Report Says - Students - The Chro... - 0 views

  • Increasing college completion is meaningless unless certificates and degrees represent real learning, which community colleges must work harder to ensure, says a report released on Thursday by the Center for Community College Student Engagement.
  • This year's report centers on "deep learning," or "broadly applicable thinking, reasoning, and judgment skills—abilities that allow individuals to apply information, develop a coherent world view, and interact in more meaningful ways."
  • 67 percent of community-college students said their coursework often involved analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience, or theory; 59 percent said they frequently synthesized ideas, information, and experiences in new ways. Other averages were lower: 56 percent of students, for example, reported being regularly asked to examine the strengths or weaknesses of their own views on a topic. And just 52 percent of students said they often had to make judgments about the value or soundness of information as part of their academic work.
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  • One problem may be low expectations,
  • 37 percent of full-time community-college students spent five or fewer hours a week preparing for class. Nineteen percent of students had never done two or more drafts of an assignment, and 69 percent had come to class unprepared at least once.
  • Nearly nine in 10 entering students said they knew how to get in touch with their instructors outside of class, and the same proportion reported that at least one instructor had learned their names. But more than two-thirds of entering students and almost half of more-seasoned students said they had never discussed ideas from their coursework with instructors outside of class.
  • This year's report also strongly recommends that colleges invest more in professional development, for part-time as well as full-time faculty. "The calls for increased college completion come at a time of increasing student enroll­ments and draconian budget cuts; and too often in those circumstances, efforts to develop faculty and staff take low priority,"
  • Lone Star College's Classroom Research Initiative, a form of professional development based on inquiry. Since last year, about 30 faculty members from the community college's five campuses have collaborated to examine assessment data from the report's surveys and other sources and to propose new ways to try to improve learning.
Gary Brown

Cheating Scandal Snares Hundreds in U. of Central Florida Course - The Ticker - The Chr... - 1 views

  • evidence of widespread cheating
  • business course on strategic management,
  • I don’t condone cheating. But I think it is equally pathetic that faculty are put in situations where they feel the only option for an examination is an easy to grade multiple choice or true/false test
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  • Faculty all need to wake up, as virtually all test banks, and also all instructor’s manuals with homework answers, are widely available on the interne
  • I think we need to question why a class has 600 students enrolled.
  • Perhaps they are the ones being cheated.
Gary Brown

71 Presidents Pledge to Improve Their Colleges' Teaching and Learning - Faculty - The C... - 0 views

  • In a venture known as the Presidents' Alliance for Excellence in Student Learning and Accountability, they have promised to take specific steps to gather more evidence about student learning, to use that evidence to improve instruction, and to give the public more information about the quality of learning on their campuses.
  • The 71 pledges, officially announced on Friday, are essentially a dare to accreditors, parents, and the news media: Come visit in two years, and if we haven't done these things, you can zing us.
  • deepen an ethic of professional stewardship and self-regulation among college leaders
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  • Beginning in 2011, all first-year students at Westminster will be required to create electronic portfolios that reflect their progress in terms of five campuswide learning goals. And the college will expand the number of seniors who take the Collegiate Learning Assessment, so that the test can be used to help measure the strength of each academic major.
  • "The crucial thing is that all of our learning assessments have been designed and driven by the faculty," says Pamela G. Menke, Miami Dade's associate provost for academic affairs. "The way transformation of learning truly occurs is when faculty members ask the questions, and when they're willing to use what they've found out to make change.
  • Other assessment models might point some things out, but they won't be useful if faculty members don't believe in them."
  • "In the long term, as more people join, I hope that the Web site will provide a resource for the kinds of innovations that seem to be successful," he says. "That process might be difficult. Teaching is an art, not a science. But there is still probably a lot that we can learn from each other."
Gary Brown

YouTube - Neil Gershenfeld: The beckoning promise of personal fabrication - 3 views

  • Neil Gershenfeld: The beckoning promise of personal fabrication
    Nominalism fully debunked.  The keynote from EDUCAUSE.  
Gary Brown

Disciplines Follow Their Own Paths to Quality - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Educa... - 2 views

  • But when it comes to the fundamentals of measuring and improving student learning, engineering professors naturally have more to talk about with their counterparts at, say, Georgia Tech than with the humanities professors at Villanova
    • Gary Brown
      Perhaps this is too bad....
  • But there is no nationally normed way to measure the particular kind of critical thinking that students of classics acquire
  • er colleagues have created discipline-specific critical-reasoning tests for classics and political science
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  • Political science cultivates skills that are substantially different from those in classics, and in each case those skills can't be measured with a general-education test.
  • he wants to use tests of reasoning that are appropriate for each discipline
  • I believe Richard Paul has spent a lifetime articulating the characteristics of discipline based critical thinking. But anyway, I think it is interesting that an attempt is being made to develop (perhaps) a "national standard" for critical thinking in classics. In order to assess anything effectively we need a standard. Without a standard there are no criteria and therefore no basis from which to assess. But standards do not necessarily have to be established at the national level. This raises the issue of scale. What is the appropriate scale from which to measure the quality and effectiveness of an educational experience? Any valid approach to quality assurance has to be multi-scaled and requires multiple measures over time. But to be honest the issues of standards and scale are really just the tip of the outcomes iceberg.
    • Gary Brown
      Missing the notion that the variance is in the activity more than the criteria.  We hear little of embedding nationally normed and weighted assignments and then assessing the implementation and facilitation variables.... mirror, not lens.
  • the UW Study of Undergraduate Learning (UW SOUL). Results from the UW SOUL show that learning in college is disciplinary; therefore, real assessment of learning must occur (with central support and resources)in the academic departments. Generic approaches to assessing thinking, writing, research, quantitative reasoning, and other areas of learning may be measuring something, but they cannot measure learning in college.
  • It turns out there is a six week, or 210+ hour serious reading exposure to two or more domains outside ones own, that "turns on" cross domain mapping as a robust capability. Some people just happen to have accumulated, usually by unseen and unsensed happenstance involvements (rooming with an engineer, son of a dad changing domains/careers, etc.) this minimum level of basics that allows robust metaphor based mapping.
Gary Brown

Learning Assessment: The Regional Accreditors' Role - Measuring Stick - The Chronicle o... - 0 views

  • The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment has just released a white paper about the regional accreditors’ role in prodding colleges to assess their students’ learning
  • All four presidents suggested that their campuses’ learning-assessment projects are fueled by Fear of Accreditors. One said that a regional accreditor “came down on us hard over assessment.” Another said, “Accreditation visit coming up. This drives what we need to do for assessment.”
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Ms. Provezis reports, “almost every action letter to institutions over the last five years has required additional attention to assessment, with reasons ranging from insufficient faculty involvement to too little evidence of a plan to sustain assessment.”
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  • regional accreditors are more likely now than they were a decade ago to insist that colleges hand them evidence about student-learning outcomes.
  • The white paper gently criticizes the accreditors for failing to make sure that faculty members are involved in learning assessment.
  • “it would be good to know more about what would make assessment worthwhile to the faculty—for a better understanding of the source of their resistance.”
  • Many of the most visible and ambitious learning-assessment projects out there seem to strangely ignore the scholarly disciplines’ own internal efforts to improve teaching and learning.
Gary Brown

Does testing for statistical significance encourage or discourage thoughtful ... - 1 views

  • Does testing for statistical significance encourage or discourage thoughtful data analysis? Posted by Patricia Rogers on October 20th, 2010
  • Epidemiology, 9(3):333–337). which argues not only for thoughtful interpretation of findings, but for not reporting statistical significance at all.
  • We also would like to see the interpretation of a study based not on statistical significance, or lack of it, for one or more study variables, but rather on careful quantitative consideration of the data in light of competing explanations for the findings.
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  • we prefer a researcher to consider whether the magnitude of an estimated effect could be readily explained by uncontrolled confounding or selection biases, rather than simply to offer the uninspired interpretation that the estimated effect is significant, as if neither chance nor bias could then account for the findings.
  • Many data analysts appear to remain oblivious to the qualitative nature of significance testing.
  • statistical significance is itself only a dichotomous indicator.
  • it cannot convey much useful information
  • Even worse, those two values often signal just the wrong interpretation. These misleading signals occur when a trivial effect is found to be ’significant’, as often happens in large studies, or when a strong relation is found ’nonsignificant’, as often happens in small studies.
  • Another useful paper on this issue is Kristin Sainani, (2010) “Misleading Comparisons: The Fallacy of Comparing Statistical Significance”Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Vol. 2 (June), 559-562 which discusses the need to look carefully at within-group differences as well as between-group differences, and at sub-group significance compared to interaction. She concludes: ‘Readers should have a particularly high index of suspicion for controlled studies that fail to report between-group comparisons, because these likely represent attempts to “spin” null results.”
    and at sub-group significance compared to interaction. She concludes: 'Readers should have a particularly high index of suspicion for controlled studies that fail to report between-group comparisons, because these likely represent attempts to "spin" null results."
Gary Brown

Home | AALHE - 2 views

shared by Gary Brown on 22 Oct 10 - Cached
  • The Association for Assessment of Learning in Higher Education, Inc. (AALHE) is an organization of practitioners interested in using effective assessment practice to document and improve student learning.
  • it is designed to be a resource by all who are interested in the improvement of learning,
    Our membership begins November 1
Gary Brown

Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College? - Innovations - The Chronicle of Higher Educ... - 2 views

  • Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants.  All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.
  • I have long been a proponent of Charles Murray’s thesis that an increasing number of persons attending college do not have the cognitive abilities or other attributes usually necessary for success at higher levels of learning. 
  • As more and more try to attend colleges, either college degrees will be watered down (something already happening I suspect) or drop-out rates will rise.  
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  • The relentless claims of the Obama administration and others that having more college graduates is necessary for continued economic leadership is incompatible with this view
  • Putting issues of student abilities aside, the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher education apologists is causing more and more persons to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all. This is even true at the doctoral and professional level –there are 5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.Ds, other doctorates, or professional degrees.
  • “Estimating Marginal Returns in Education,”
  • In other words, even if on average, an investment in higher education yields a good, say 10 percent, rate of return, it does not follow that adding to existing investments will yield that return, partly for reasons outlined above.
  • should we be subsidizing increasingly problematic educational programs for students whose prior academic record would suggest little likelihood of academic much less vocational success?
  • I think the American people understand, albeit dimly, the logic above.
  • Higher education is on the brink of big change, like it or not.
    The tone is not the same as Berliner's, but the numbers suggest WSU's and others goals merit a second look.
Gary Brown

Empowerment Evaluation - 1 views

  • Empowerment Evaluation in Stanford University's School of Medicine
  • Empowerment evaluation provides a method for gathering, analyzing, and sharing data about a program and its outcomes and encourages faculty, students, and support personnel to actively participate in system changes.
  • It assumes that the more closely stakeholders are involved in reflecting on evaluation findings, the more likely they are to take ownership of the results and to guide curricular decision making and reform.
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  • The steps of empowerment evaluation
  • designating a “critical friend” to communicate areas of potential improvement,
  • collecting evaluation data,
  • encouraging a cycle of reflection and action
  • establishing a culture of evidence
  • developing reflective educational practitioners.
  • cultivating a community of learners
  • yearly cycles of improvement at the Stanford University School of Medicine
    The findings were presented in Academic Medicine, a medical education journal, earlier this year
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