Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration
Dianne C. Renn
Accountability is documented as one of the two major forces for engaging in assessment (Ewell, 2002, 2009; Keeling, 2006; Keeling et al., 2008; Love & Estanek, 2004; Terenzini, 1989). Due in part to neoliberalism's influence on education assessment rhetoric and discourse, accountability dominates how assessment is understood and practiced. The dominance of the accountability rhetoric effects how student affairs educators perceive and value assessment. The purpose of this study is to explore why assessment is not a pervasive or consistent practice within student affairs. Through an interpretivist case study examination of Manresa University's division of student affairs, participant observation, document analysis, and interviews were used to define and explore assessment perceptions, attitudes, and practices among division staff members. The original focus of the study was to shed light on the internal commitment to improvement, the smaller force behind assessment, but evolved into examining the data through a larger social construct - neoliberalism - that influences both forces through its influence on society, education, and assessment.
The results and findings of this study provide insight and guidance to student affairs educators, and potentially all educators, for how they can begin to reframe assessment as a process and discourse that honors student learning, educational values and missions, and standards of exemplary practice. Embracing institutional and professional values, setting intentional definitions and standards of success or excellence, and resisting accountability and neoliberal pressures that devalue education each play a significant role in how student affairs and student affairs educators interpret and engage in assessment of student learning and development. The findings of this study also offer guidance for student affairs educators to convert assessment to a process and discourse that honors student learning and educational values by increasing their responsibility to critique and direct assessment and the forces that influence it.
Thomas, Erin Elizabeth Pearce, "Distinguishing Assessment from Accountability: Honoring Student Learning and Values in Assessment" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 253.