Abstract

At its best, the assessment process can inspire meaningful and authentic conversations among faculty about their practice as teachers, about their students as learners, and about their hopes and frustrations with both. However, in the literature on assessment there is little attention given to how departments or universities can foster these conditions. In the experience of the authors, assessment's potential will not be realized without faculty support, and faculty support is most effective when guided by assessment. The success of both relies on a culture that respects faculty expertise and encourages inquiry and vulnerability. This article describes the history and current practice of assessment and faculty support in University Studies, a general education program at Portland State University. It reflects on the tension between authentic, faculty-engaged inquiry and approaches that call for quick change and accountability. It also considers the challenges of practicing assessment and faculty support with faculty representing a range of professional ranks and spanning multiple colleges and departments. Finally, it offers examples of assessment and faculty support efforts that foster collegial communities and critical reflection on individual and program-level practices.

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