Saturday, March 30, 2013

Single Assessments in Business Colleges May Not be Telling the Whole Story

Education is a process that helps students widen their understanding of their fields of study as well as the world around them. The problem is that many colleges may not be aware of whether their students are actually learning. As colleges seek to improve learning assessment in light of budget difficulties they are seeking ways of assessing learning. However, such assessments may actually fail in their overall ability to determine higher levels of student learning. A single method of assessment may not actually be telling the whole story. 

Teaching is an important component of any quality of education. Through this understanding we see that all universities should continuously improve upon their teaching methods as much as possible. A study by Pritchard, Saccucci, and Potter in 2010 helps highlight how one AACSB accredited school improved upon their teaching practices by focusing closely on their mission statement. 

The mission statement is the main guide by which all other functions of the organization are derived.  In order for the organization to effectively use this mission statement they should use it as an overriding philosophy to measure effectiveness as well as a way to review those measurements for continuous improvement. The process should be one that continually analyzes itself for improvement and development. 

This study was longitudinal by nature and looked at teacher and program effectiveness over a period of 12 semesters. They measured the teaching quality by using a SIR II assessment given to students every class and every semester. Each professor was required to do an analysis of their teaching results as well as a personal plan of improvement. The assessment design helped teachers to use data to reflect on their overall performance and find ways to improve. 

The results showed that even though professors were seeking overall improvement they did not actually get it. It was also found that students were more engaged in class and putting forward more effort but did not actually learn more. The results of individual analysis did change over time but the single measure was relatively ineffective in assessing what was occurring.

Since the study relied only on SIR II the results were skewed. Proper assessment of instructors and overall learning of students requires multiple avenues of assessment in order to assess complex teaching well. Furthermore, programs themselves may require multiple assessments and ways of looking at learning in order to adequately reflect what is occurring. However, the process of assessment, analysis of results, and implementation of the results remains a valid method of improving student learning. 

Pritchard, R., Saccucci, M. & Potter, G. (2010). Evaluating a program designed to demonstrate continuous improvement in teaching at an AACSB-Accredited college of business at a regional university: a case study. Journal of Education for Business, 85.

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