An analysis of university academic department bylaws to measure commitment to program assessment: A U.S. case study

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Abstract

While universities across the globe differ in their assessment practices and processes, program assessment has become a foundation for policy makers, universities, and other stakeholders to demonstrate the quality of their programs. Globally, there are 550 accreditation/quality assurance bodies in 170 countries. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between espoused and enacted values related to assessment based on an analysis of academic department bylaws at a large university in the Midwest of the United States. If program assessment is truly valued, program assessment activities should be reflected in a university’s procedures that govern promotion and tenure. The assessment policies were reviewed using the department bylaws as observable artifacts. A summative content analysis of 1,106 pages of contractual bylaws for 7 colleges and 40 departments was conducted. The study found a disparity in the espoused value of assessment at MWU compared to the actual or enacted values found in department bylaws. Until a university’s enacted values (as seen through artifacts like bylaws) align with espoused values, a tension exists that reinforces assessment as a top-down compliance mandate rather than a continuous improvement effort to increase and ensure student learning. Implications for research and practice follow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2113218
JournalCogent Education
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • accreditation
  • accreditation
  • assessment
  • bylaws
  • enacted values
  • espoused values
  • program assessment
  • student learning

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