Friday, March 9, 2018

Teaching Excellence

Only slightly off topic of student assessment is the question of how one evaluates good teaching. Just as with student assessment, defining one's objectives and how to measure progress toward those goals is in fact a highly political activity. Why this learning objective and not that one; why is this particular standard considered inadequate, satisfactory, or excellent; why this group's (students? peers? parents? administrators? stakeholders? taxpayers?) perceptions of quality rather than some others? Do we measure excellent teaching against student expectation, student learning, student engagement, student enjoyment, student self-fulfillment; or by employer needs and expectations, graduate employment figures, graduate life chances; by political socialization or active citizenship; critical thinking or ideological conformity; or societal arts and culture, inventiveness, entrepreneurialism, the reproduction or elimination of poverty and injustice... You get the idea.

I'm very pleased to have "Excellence for what? Policy Development and the Discourse of the Purpose of Higher Education," appear as a chapter in the just-released Routledge collection, Global Perspectives on Teaching Excellence. The collection is basically a reaction to recent legislation in the UK that attempted to measure and mandate teaching excellence in higher education. My wife and I wrote a critique using my discourse analysis model of the purpose of higher education applied to the new legislation to suggest that the government's definition of 'excellence' might be somewhat problematic from the perspective of students and learning.

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