Portfolio Assessment and Certification: Three Cases in Academic Program Administration
Technical and professional communication (TPC) are disciplines lacking universal evaluative metrics such as certification of programs, widespread certification for practitioners, and standardized testing. The locus of assessment is usually entirely within the program itself, hampering comparison and cross-pollination of ideas, but enabling local decision-making and management. Indeed, in the absence of assessment measures, good things can happen: cultural values can drive curricula; a student-centered, ethical practice can thrive; lifelong learning may be encouraged.
At the same time, rigorous assessment might offer a way to measure those things which are indeed measurable, beyond the rote metrics of class sizes and technology resources. Assessment, if embraced by faculty as a means toward conscientious improvement of one’s teaching and the quality of academic programs, can be productive despite the specter of external accountability. Further, assessment may be increasingly important in defense of our curricula, as we continue to face difficulty in answering questions about what makes a specific program or department “successful.” We may also need to explain our professional disciplinary status and perform other discursive feats as we assist with marketing our students to industry.
In this panel, we profile three programs with entirely different approaches to portfolios.