Earlier in the year I picked up a book because there was a character who seemed to be so much like me. I was dispirited because she was nothing like me, and because the book turned out to not have much depth.
When I started reading Educated I found a character who had a childhood that was more similar to mine than anyone I had ever met. Reading about her family struggles, and her choices, was less triggering and more liberating. It takes courage to be able to speak about the unspeakable. It takes talent to be able to transcribe the emotions and experiences in a way that would engage her readers rather than alienate them.
I do not think the writing was technically perfect at all times. I think there was some choices in using time that was not the most effective, and there was some times that I wished the writing was a little more polished. Yet, these instances were small and were pale compared to the actual overall work.
I would be interested in a follow up memoir, one less focused on her childhood and more focused on her adulthood. I feel like Westover has a lot more left to say, and I would first in line to read it.
I wish that I could obtain multiple copies of this book and distribute it to key faculty across my campus.
This is the most concise, structured, and applied books on assessment that I have read to date. It is truly a 'how to' book for faculty to implement assessment in their department. It is perfect for colleges/universities that are just starting assessment programs, faculty that are new to assessment, or even faculty that could just some more direction. The entire time that I read this book I kept thinking how it would make a great outline for several assessment workshops.
The book breaks down assessment into 13 applied modules. It starts with an overview of assessment, talks about designing/starting an assessment program, then breaks down the tools needed for assessment, and finally tells you how to use and store your assessment data.
Each module is short and specific while still containing the needed information. The book itself is only 160 pages with references. It is a good length even for the busy professor.
The book is not perfect, but it is close enough. There are some items that I thought were too vague. I was not overjoyed with it not specifying a recommended limit on program learning outcomes, as I have seen them exceedingly high. However, further in the book it did give more specific recommendations. Also, the analysis portion of the book will probably be too basic for faculty in natural or social sciences.
With supplementation this would make an amazing guidebook for an assessment workbook. It is also an amazing resource for faculty and for assessment staff to have on hand.
Rating **** (4 stars) Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education breaks apart assessment into three main sections. It looks at what has worked in the past by analyzing what evidence and practice has shown to be effective. It also analyzes the stakeholders in educational assessment with a strong emphases on executive administrators and faculty. Lastly, it looks to where assessment of higher education is headed.
While this volume self professes not to be a handbook of assessment, it is a guide through the history and best practices of assessment as seen through the NILOA members. It is a fairly complete work that adds to the assessment literature by bringing multiple components into one collection, expanding on those components, and analyzing them in a clear and concise way.
However, until the last chapter the inclusion of staff is non-existent despite touching on items that may commonly be done by staff. Yet, the very reasons why departments utilization of staff to support assessment efforts were touched on the support role was not brought to be part of the conversation.
While this work is more theoretical than applied it does bring to light common difficulties and many less talked about aspects of the practicalities of higher education assessment.
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