“In the drive of an occupation toward professional status a substantial amount of attention is devoted to education and the establishment of professional schools, and accrediting bodies are created to watch over standards of educational performance. Too frequently these standards are more concerned with the outward manifestations of academic achievement than with the intellectual content of the discipline to be taught: the amount of study required beyond the baccalaureate degree, the number of faculty who hold the doctorate, the extent of ‘research’ activity as indicated by faculty publication, and other considerations that can be reduced to statistical quantification. Lip service is given to creativity and innovation but excessive departure from traditional course content may well be regarded with considerable suspicion.”
The words above came to mind when I listened to the latest news on accreditation at ALISE where the deans and directors were all informed, to our surprise, that more stringent reporting of student learning outcomes would be part of future accreditation exercises. These insightful words are from Jesse Shera, then dean of the School of Library Science at Western Reserve University, writing in 1967 for Science. It seems from comments from others in Dallas that there is little real input ever from the academic side on accreditation and we are left subject to the whims of the year (currently learning outcomes but these are just added to previous years’ whims as additional burdens) in an endless compliance exercise. Isn’t it about time schools stopped ceding education standards to groups who neither understand universities very well nor seem particularly well-informed on learning theory (and show no interest in correcting their deficits)? Check back in another 45 years….
- Ref: Shera, J. (1967) Librarians against Machines, Science, May 12, Vol 156, 746-750.