All things everyone should engage with (to a certain extent) for their own benefit. Some people like these things, some don’t, few are ambivalent. For those in the latter two categories, there is assistance or support available: tutors for math, personal trainers for exercise, and dieticians for vegetables. Each of these roles can be both feared and appreciated.
I know, because I’m in a similar position with assessment.
Assessment is relevant and applicable to everyone in higher education (Kuh et al., 2014; Maki, 2010; Suskie, 2009; Yousey-Elsener, Bentrim, & Henning, 2015). As an assessment professional, I daily experience the pendulum swing of reactions from folks welcoming my support to groaning when they see me coming.
I’m fine with both reactions.
For those already viewing me as a partner, I am excited to support them in achieving their goals and answering questions they have with data as evidence. For those not so happy to see me, I recognize there is work for me to do in communicating the purpose of assessment work, positioning myself as support in their success, and empowering them to be able to confidently lead their programs from a data-informed perspective.
Context for Assessment Professionals
I’ve established that assessment may not be everyone’s favorite topic, but it’s not going away (for evidence, check out any regional accreditors standards/criteria). If anything, evidence of student learning outcomes is going to be increasingly important and necessary to multiple external entities.
Institutions hire folks like me as subject matter experts to ensure compliance and good practice related to the assessment of student learning. The mistake or misunderstanding some assessment professionals, faculty, or staff may have is that it’s on the assessment professionals to “do” the work. This is the furthest thing from the truth.
In trying to discredit or avoid the work entirely, faculty sometimes prove the point that assessment professionals should not be doing all the work. Assessment professionals know assessment; they are not subject matter experts in business, chemistry, literature, residence life, student activities, or civic engagement. We know faculty and staff aren’t necessarily trained in assessment, but assessment professionals are.