Academic journal article Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences

A Proposed Model of Assessment Maturity: A Paradigm Shift

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences

A Proposed Model of Assessment Maturity: A Paradigm Shift

Article excerpt

THE SHIFTING ACADEMIC PARADIGM

Within the last 20 years, the academic paradigm has shifted from a teaching focus to an emphasis upon demonstrated learning. The teaching paradigm, which dominated higher education in the twentieth century (Lick, 1999), was input-oriented, assuming that if a student were exposed to an able faculty, an adequate infrastructure, and a traditional curriculum that learning would be a natural consequence. In the past, various accreditation bodies at all levels (national, regional, discipline and programmatic) have implemented accreditation standards that focused upon the teaching paradigm. Within such a paradigm, accreditors have considered the adequacy of inputs such as: the quality of faculty; the extent of library holdings; and the adequacy of classroom, laboratory or studio facilities.

However, a paradigm shift occurred in the 1990's with the transition from input-focused teaching to demonstrable learning. The learning paradigm focuses not upon the delivery of instruction-although the quality of faculty, libraries and laboratories remains important-but rather upon the learner and his actual acquisition of knowledge and skills as demonstrated by performance. In the learning paradigm, the learner becomes responsible for the construction of knowledge frameworks (Saulnier, Landry, Longenecker, and Wagner, 2008). These frameworks are not linear or cumulative, but are nested and interacting, with the entire framework being significantly more than the sum of its parts. The learning paradigm is learner-centric as opposed to instructor-centric. Thus, significant learning occurs beyond the classroom as students gain experience in other venues.

The shift to a learning paradigm from a teaching paradigm is evidenced in a change in accreditation expectations. Although national, regional, disciplinary and programmatic accrediting bodies continue to consider inputs, the output of the educational process, demonstrable student learning, has moved to center stage, placing new emphasis upon assessment activities to document this learning. Table 1 summarizes the change in emphasis focusing on assessment driven by the paradigm shift (Saulnier, Landry, Longenecker, and Wagner, 2008).

New emphasis upon educational assessment by accrediting bodies has given rise to development of assessment systems and practices at all levels (e.g. university, college, department, discipline, and program). Institutions differ significantly as to the comprehensiveness of these systems, the efficacy of assessment practices on campus, the quality of outputs and the significance of changes that have resulted from their implementation with a pervasive question remaining on most campuses: "Are we there yet?"

The evaluation of assessment practices on campus is aided by the adoption of a maturity model measuring the efficacy of assessment in improving student learning and performance. Measuring the right things can help schools gauge if they are measuring learning in the right way, using the right tools. It can also help determine if the right systems to coordinate these activities are being utilized. Furthermore, it can help determine if there is an efficient division of labor and whether a sound infrastructure has been built to support the assessment process. The answer to each of these questions will vary, depending upon the maturity of the assessment system.

A maturity model can provide an organized framework to describe the path that can be followed to effectively and efficiently implement an assessment process. Properly applied, a maturity model can articulate a common language for system development, provide a means for assessing and benchmarking performance, stage the maturity and evolution of the system, identify and disseminate best practices, and identify gaps and opportunities for improvement (Mehravari, 2014).

THE CAPABILITY MATURITY MODEL

Within the last twenty years, the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) (Paulk, Curtis, Chrissis and Weber, 1993) has gained wide-spread acceptance in various technical areas. …

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