Achievement and Quality: Higher Education in the Arts
Crafting Unique Evaluations
Evaluations concerning achievement and quality can be crafted to address specific issues or answer specific questions at various levels of complexity. A critical task is the development of a set of criteria and procedures that are truly consistent with the purposes of the evaluation. The questions below provide a framework to assist such development at the local level.
- What is the nature of and specific purposes or characteristics applicable to the area(s) of achievement you wish to address?
For example, one or several or all of the characteristics outlined in this Web resource or by the institution regarding:
Institution, School, Department, or Program Achievement
External Perceptions about Achievement
- What is (are) the purpose(s) of the evaluation?
If there is more than one purpose, what are the priorities?
- A direct assessment of the area or areas chosen, usually to determine the level of quality being achieved, and as with all purposes, to determine goals for improvement.
- A correlation of the assessments regarding one or more areas with one or more others, perhaps to determine the extent to which achievement and quality in one part is affecting another, or if there are larger scale or multiple cause and effect relationships.
- A combination assessment of two or more of all areas perhaps to obtain a comprehensive overview, or if the relationship between parts and wholes is working effectively.
- An internal or external comparison, perhaps to gain insights into levels being achieved, or to understand on substantive grounds the basis for competition, or to determine purposes for further evaluations.
- Fulfillment of pragmatic goals such as: conduct a periodic review, evaluate against external or internal expectations, develop common perspectives among constituencies, focus on futures issues, orient new administrators or faculty, consider program deletions or additions, generate lists of concerns and needs, develop the basis for planning, create priorities, prepare for specific internal or external evaluations, produce information for internal reference, explain or justify achievements and quality to others.
- Other purposes not listed above.
What do you need to know to fulfill your purpose or purposes given the priorities chosen? Some necessary knowledge may lie outside that of the art form.
What are the best, most efficient means to obtain what you need to know in terms that will be effective given your purposes? Are there roles for qualitative and/or quantitative means? What about individual or group professional judgment? If you chose multiple means, what are the priorities among them?
How practical are the means chosen given the time and resources available? After obtaining a comprehensive answer, do you need to revisit questions 2, 4, and 5?
As your evaluation proceeds, what checks and balances are needed to ensure that the results reflect the true sources and states of the achievements you are assessing? This is especially critical where correlations or comparisons are involved.
How does your process deal with unknown causes, or causes and influences beyond the control of the institution, students, or teachers?
Once you have your results, how can you best present what they actually mean, and if appropriate, what they do not mean? How do you place or work with the results in terms of different value systems that may be present or influential?
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