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Fall 1999
ISSN 0890-913X
Volume 15, Number 1

Assessing the Economics of Outcomes Assessment

John C. Soper, John Carroll University
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AssessingtheEconomicsofOutcomesAssessmentJohnC.SoperJohnCarrollUniversityRecentlyhighereducationhasbeengrippedbyconcernsabouttheassessmentprocessandfewareasoftheuniversityhavebeenimmunefromassessmentpressures.Onesignificantdimensionofthisprocessisoutcomesassessment,whichhasbeendescribedas,Atheprocessofprovidingcredibleevidenceoftheoutcomesofhighereducationundertakenforthepurposeofimprovingprogramsandserviceswithintheinstitution.@(Banta,1993)Alengthierdefinition,providedbyAngelo(1995),tellsamorecompletestory:Assessmentisanongoingprocessaimedatunderstandingandimprovingstudentlearning.Itinvolvesmakingourexpectationsexplicitandpublic;settingappropriatecriteriaandhighstandardsforlearningquality;systematicallygathering,analyzing,andinterpretingevidencetodeterminehowwellperformancematchesthoseexpectationsandstandards;usingtheresultinginformationtodocument,explain,andimproveperformance.Whenitisembeddedeffectivelywithinlargerinstitutionalsystems,assessmentcanhelpusfocusourcollectiveattention,examineourassumptions,andcreateasharedacademicculturededicatedtoassuringandimprovingthequalityofhighereducation.Finally,asimple,yetelegantdefinitionisthatassessmentconsistsofAthetoolsandtechniquesusedbyeveryonetounderstandessentialprocesses.@(Porter,1998)Whateverdefinitionischosen,pressuresforsomeformofoutcomesassessmenthavebeenbuildinginaninexorablemannerinrecentyears.Canweapplyeconomicanalysistotheoutcomesassessmentmovement(orcraze)soastogainabetterunderstandingofacademicoutcomesassessmentanditsimplicationsforhighereducation?Whatisthepoliticaleconomyofoutcomes
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