Doug, the Fearmonger

March 8, 2011

Well, at least that’s how I come across in the Chronicle Of Higher Education’s article on a panel discussion considering the assessment of learning at the American Council on Education conference yesterday.  Here’s how the piece opens:

Chronicle of Higher Education

March 7, 2011

Higher-Education Leaders Grapple With the Growing Demand for Quality Assurance

By David Glenn


“We shouldn’t be driven by fear, but we should be afraid,” said Douglas C. Bennett, the president of Earlham College, during a panel on student learning at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting here on Monday afternoon. Academic leaders should be afraid, Mr. Bennett said, because legislators and the public are losing confidence in the promise that colleges can collectively guarantee their own quality without external regulation.

“Quality assurance is a shared professional responsibility,” Mr. Bennett said. “Except to the outside, to legislators and the public, it sometimes doesn’t look like we’re paying much attention. They think somebody else should be the watchdog. And we wouldn’t like whatever would replace shared professional responsibility.”

For that reason, Mr. Bennett said, colleges should be much more open about their assessments of their students’ learning. “It is absolutely untenable for us to tell the public, ‘We’re assessing student learning, but we can’t tell you exactly what we found,'” he said.


He did quote me correctly, and he spelled my name right.  The focus of the discussion was not accreditation, but rather on taking stock of where we are with assessmernt of learning.  I thought there was more good news than bad in the stock-taking.  If you can get through the pay gate, the whole piece is here.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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