Learning Assessment: Hyperbolic Doubts versus Deflated Critiques
Arguments against outcomes assessment often provide powerful portrayals of assessment as anathema to quality teaching and learning in higher education. However, we two philosophers, with extensive experience designing, implementing, and managing outcomes assessment, find these arguments to be less than convincing. In this paper, we present a philosophical analysis of some of these arguments with the goal of unpacking their exact strengths and weaknesses. In doing so, we are more interested in discussing these arguments in the context of assessment (or conceptions of assessment) well done and well managed rather than reading these arguments as attacks on poorly implemented versions of assessment. In short, we aim to get at the realistic possibilities of using assessment as a tool for improving instruction, curricula, and student learning. We also advocate scholarship of teaching and learning that aims to improve theories of learning assessment and to develop new models and methods of assessment.