African American Culture and Heritage in Higher Education Research and Practice

By Kassie Freeman | Go to book overview

12
The Rexlationship between Evaluation Effort and Institutional Culture: Mixing Oil and Water?

Bruce Anthony Jones

Without question, assessment and evaluation have become critical components of any effort to understand the performance of institutions of higher education and of efforts to engage in higher education reform. From an internal standpoint, institutions of higher education need to know what factors are important for student success higher education and what outcomes address or do not address this success. From an external standpoint, there is the "accountability" issue. Institutions of higher education expend tremendous amounts of public and private dollars. These institutions often employ a large workforce. In many localities, the institution of higher education is the single largest employer. In an age of corporate downsizing, shrinking government resources, and increased giving demands on the private philanthropic sector, institutions of higher education must be held accountable for how fiscal, human, and material resources are spent. Finally, in the context of evaluation effort there is the "diversity" issue. This issue is tied closely to both student performance and accountability concerns. Students on college campuses across the nation have become increasingly ethnically diverse. For example, the African American student presence on college campuses rose from 8.8% in 1984 to 10.1% in 1994. The percentage of Latino students rose from 4% in 1980 to 5.2% in 1989 ( Nettles, 1995). While both of these percentage increases are small relative to the percentages of African Americans and Latino Americans in the population at large, they do represent an increase that has been generally upward since the 1960s. The growing ethnic diversity on the college campus is directly related to the growing ethnic diversity of the population of the United States and increased opportunities for representatives of previously disfranchised ethnic groups to attend colleges and universities.

With particular regard to the latter, this chapter focuses on the significance of institutional culture relative to the advancement of African American students and efforts to assess the performance of institutions of higher education. Institutional

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