Dangerous: Data and Cultures of Evidence « phd monkey

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Dangerous: Data and Cultures of Evidence

How does campus culture affect the way a student affairs organization is structured? As a campus culture evolves, how might a student affairs organization change and grow? Cite examples.

Martha Oburn writes about the “healthy” growth of campus culture through cultures of evidence. Cultures of evidence rely on data (as evidence) to mold and shape organizational decisions especially as they relate to student support and student affairs programs and activities. Oburn (2005), suggests “building a culture of evidence begins with the assertion that colleges not only measure the effectiveness of instructional programs but also assess the quality and contributions of support services and other curricular programs” (p. 20). Measuring this effectiveness must include efforts to measure the fulfillment of an institution’s stakeholders and include: students, faculty, related institutions, employers, community, and local K-12 schools. Taking the pulse of the stakeholders regularly will allow and institution to determine if services are helping those who use them.

While I support the idea of growing campus culture in a healthy way, cultures of evidence and/or the idea to measure educational quality more data driven can be risky, especially when it comes quantifying student learning. Attempting to measure student learning or a teacher’s teaching quality from the information or “data” gathered by standardized tests (the current trend in K-12) is not in the best interest of innovative education.

Oburn, M. (2005, Fall). Building a culture of evidence in student affairs. New Directions for Community Colleges, 131, 19-33.

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