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Friday, May 2, 2014

Drinking the Assessment Kool-aid

Today's assessment symposium was, interestingly enough, interesting--or at least the first part of it was. In fact, I was sorry to have missed the beginning of it all (though nothing on earth was going to get me to campus at 8 a.m.). There was a guest speaker--the assessment maven from Monroe County Community College (which actually offered me a position before NCC did)--and he showed us an organizational strategy that made enormous sense. I spoke with another of our department's faculty who was there--and who also was one of the organizers of the symposium--and she was even more excited than I. I stayed until the end, because at the end there was to be a demonstration of how to create the kind of grids the guy from Monroe was talking about by using Taskstream. However, typically, the person doing that presentation ran through it so quickly that I turned into Ginger from the Gary Larson cartoon, and all I heard was "blah blah blah Taskstream blah blah blah." Still, I offered to work with my colleague in creating a grid for us as a department

 I know I'll kick myself for volunteering for yet another thing to do, but among other things, it will reveal to the rest of the Assessment committee (and who knows, even perhaps the department as a whole) the fact that the language we use is too dense to work for assessment. At very least, we need to unpack the language: we can still keep all the same ideas, but we can't mix them together as we now tend to do. The fact that the language is so dense is part of why we continually rework the language every time we do an assessment of anything, and as I believe I've said before, I'm sick to death of continually going back to the drawing board--almost literally, as every change of language needs to track through about 45 different places where it appears, from course description matrices to assessments to Taskstream.

In any event, the one benefit to the fact that the symposium started so insanely early is that I was back here in the office by 2:15. I confess to a small amount of noodling, instead of productive work, but I did write up one observation while waiting to meet with the other person I observed. That meeting has now come to a close--and I can now leave the rest of the mess messy until I try to impose a modicum of organization on it come Monday. Monday will come a mite sooner than I'd prefer, but still: even including that week of work after classes end, three weeks from right now, I should be free as a bird.

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