Wednesday, July 1, 2009
States vary widely in how they track college student achievement, according to a new report cited in Inside Higher Ed. Responses to the report are mixed. While the call to account is generally lauded, but attempts to characterize progress as a horse race strike some as gimmicky. In our project, Domain-Specific Assessment, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, we are finding what cognitive scientists such as John Anderson and Richard Clark have found all along: Getting experts, such as postsecondary educators, to articulate the learning outcomes that matter is not so easy. Part of the problem is psychological: When someone becomes an expert in any field, lots of the cognitive work becomes automatic, chunked, and unconscious. Multiple steps become routines that are no longer carefully parsed. This can lead to a gap in how we articulate what it is that students need to learn in higher education. To see full report, check column to left.