Fletcher McClellan

Elizabethtown College
Politics, Philosophy and Legal Studies

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Elizabethtown College
Elizabethtown, PA
United States
mcclelef@etown.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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McClellan, E. Fletcher. 2009. “An Overview of the Assessment Movement.” Michelle D. Deardorff, Kerstin Hamann, and John Ishiyama, eds. Assessment in Political Science (pp. 39-58). Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.
Abstract: This chapter examines the development of the outcomes assessment movement in higher education nationally and in the political science discipline. It applies John Kingdon's agenda-setting model to the question of how assessment became a preferred solution in efforts to reform higher education, asserting that the movement was the result of convergence of simultaneous, separate streams of activity. Political science was slow to recognize the importance and staying power of the assessment movement, but by 2000, one-half of political science departments were involved in some kind of assessment activity. Assessment in the discipline has intensified in the last decade, spurred by increased scholarship on teaching and the annual APSA Conference on Teaching and Learning.
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2862.0883
McClellan, E. Fletcher. 2016. “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Three Decades of Outcomes Assessment in Higher Education.” PS: Political Science & Politics. 49 (1): 88-92.
Abstract: This article examines outcomes assessment in higher education as a case study of policy implementation, analyzing why the assessment movement has encountered difficulty in achieving campus involvement and acceptance over the past three decades. One reason is that outcomes assessment is viewed by higher education professionals as externally-imposed, thus intruding on their professional autonomy. Secondly, the “complexity of joint action” frustrates implementation actors such as regional accrediting agencies, which are supposed to encourage institutional improvement and at the same time serve as arms of federal enforcement. Third, assessment in higher education meets few if any conditions of effective implementation. There is conflict over the goals of assessment, what outcomes should be assessed, how institutions can improve outcomes, and whether efforts to publicize outcomes performance will influence the marketplace. Furthermore, higher education institutions support assessment in general, but actively oppose specific initiatives such as President Obama’s attempt to rate colleges on his College Scorecard. Despite these obstacles, there is greater acceptance of assessment as a tool for educational program improvement, and assessment activity and use have risen in the past decade. While political science has acquiesced to conducting assessment, greater commitment can enhance student learning and the status of the discipline.
DOI: 10.1017/S1049096515001298

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy SECONDARY
Governance PRIMARY
Social Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory SECONDARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY