In the movie, “An American Werewolf in London” two travelers are told by some eccentric folks in a pub to “stick to the road; keep off the moors.” Of course, the guys ignore the warning and venture off into the moors to disastrous results.
So, here I am, encouraging program faculty to “stick to the road.” In a recent meeting, reviewing data from a standardized test assessment*, the results were less-than-stellar. These kinds of results usually generate some panic followed by a need to explain the [obvious] breakdown of someone or something in the program. Sometimes, it even gets a little ugly. This time, it didn’t get ugly, but I think teeth were bared.
~It is very easy to get bogged down in this view of assessment results.~
This is where I come in with a gentle reminder that “sticking to the road” means we only need to establish whether or not the students met the expectation for the learning outcome(s) measured. In this case, the students did not meet the expectations, so we needed to identify 2-3 actions we could try to see if the expectation is met in the next cycle. Those 2-3 actions are not focused on any one part, course, or person in the program. Simply, it is important to stick to the goal of the assessment activity. It can be very easy to get sidetracked with the data and go off into the moors. But, I will always try to keep folks focused and working toward the simplest idea: Did the assessment inform your program? Is that trip into the moors informing your program or the outcomes you just assessed? If not, get back on the road and keep focused on that outcome. Meetings will be much safer, too!
*Using standardized tests to assess student learning is a whole other blog post. Maybe I’ll get to that one soon…:)