Linda Suskie

  A Common Sense Approach to Assessment & Accreditation


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Making assessment worthwhile

Posted on March 13, 2018 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

In my February 28 blog post, I noted that many faculty have been expressing frustration that assessment is a waste of an enormous amount of time and resources that could be better spent on teaching. Here are some strategies to help make sure your assessment activities are meaningful and cost-effective, all drawn from the new third edition of

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What do faculty really think about assessment?

Posted on March 4, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The vitriol in some recent op-ed pieces and the comments that followed them might leave the impression that faculty hate assessment. Well, some faculty clearly do, but a national survey suggests that they’re in the minority.

The Faculty Survey of Assessment Culture,...

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Why do (some) faculty hate assessment?

Posted on February 28, 2018 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (8)

Two recent op-ed pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times –and the hundreds of online comments regarding them—make clear that, 25...

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An example of closing the loop...and ideas for doing it well

Posted on February 22, 2018 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I was intrigued by an article in the September 23, 2016, issue of Inside Higher Ed titled “When a C Isn’t Good Enough.” The University of Arizona f...

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Is higher ed assessment changing? You bet!

Posted on February 13, 2018 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Today marks the release of the third edition of my book Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide. I approached Jossey-Bass about doing a third edition in response to requests from some faculty who used it as a textbook but were required to use more recent editions. The second edition had been very successful, so I figured I’d update the refer...

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Is this a rubric?

Posted on January 28, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

A couple of years ago I did a literature review on rubrics and learned that there’s no consensus on what a rubric is. Some experts define rubrics very narrowly, as only analytic rubrics—the kind formatted as a grid, listing traits down the left side and performance levels across the top, with the boxes filled in. But others define rubrics more broadly, as written guides for evaluatin...

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Why are learning outcomes a good idea?

Posted on January 9, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (3)

Just before the holidays, the Council of Graduate Schools released Articulating Learning Outcomes in Higher Education. The title is a bit of misnomer; the paper focuses not on how to articulate learning outcomes but on why it’s a good idea to articulate learning outcomes and why it might be a good idea to have a learning outcome framework such as ...

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Balancing regional and specialized accreditation demands

Posted on December 22, 2017 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Virtually all U.S. accreditors (and some state agencies) require the assessment of student learning, but the specifics--what, when, how--can vary significantly. How can programs with multiple accreditations (say regional and specialized) serve two or more accreditation masters without killing themselves in the process?

I recently posted my thoughts on this on the ASSESS listserv, and a colleague asked me to make my contribution into a blog post as well.


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Seminal readings on assessing student learning

Posted on December 8, 2017 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (1)

Someone on the ASSESS listserv recently asked for recommendations for a good basic book for those getting started with assessment. Here are eight books I recommend for every assessment practitioner's bookshelf (in addition, of course to my own Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, whose third edition is coming out on February 4, 2018.)

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So you want to be a consultant?

Posted on November 21, 2017 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (1)

From time to time people contact me for advice, not on assessment or accreditation but for tips on how to build a consulting business. In case you’re thinking the same thing, I’m sorry to tell you that I really can’t offer much advice.

My consulting work is the culmination of 40 years of work in higher education. So if you want to spend the next 40 years preparing to get into consulting work, I can tell you my story, but if you want to build a business more...

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What can an article on gun control tell us about creating good assessment reports?

Posted on November 8, 2017 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (6)

I was struck by Nicholas Kristof’s November 6 New York Times article, How to Reduce Shootings. No, I’m not talking here about the politics of the issue, and I’m not writing ...

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An easy, inexpensive, meaningful way to close the assessment loop

Posted on October 29, 2017 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (2)

Assessment results are often used to make tweaks to individual courses and sometimes individual programs. It can be harder to figure out how to use assessment results to make broad, meaningful change across a college or university. But here’s one way to do so: Use assessment results to drive faculty professional development programming.

Here’s how it might work.

An assessment committee or some other appropriate group reviews annual assessment re...

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Assessing the right things, not the easy things

Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (2)

One of the many things I’ve learned by watching Ken Burns’ series on Vietnam is that Defense Secretary Robert MacNamara was a data geek. A former Ford Motor Company executive, he routinely asked for all kinds of data. Sounds great, but there were two (literally) fatal flaws with his approach to assessment.

First, MacNamara asked for data on virtually anything measurable, compelling staff to spend countless hours filling binders with all kinds of metrics—too...

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What's a good schedule for assessing program learning outcomes?

Posted on August 26, 2017 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Chris Coleman recently asked the Accreditation in Southern Higher Education listserv ( about schedules for assessing program learning outcomes. Should programs assess one or two learning outcomes each year, for example? Or should they assess everything once every three or four years? Here are my thoughts from my forthcoming third edition of Assessing Student Learning: A Comm...

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Is It Time to Abandon the Term "Liberal Arts?

Posted on August 20, 2017 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Scott Jaschick at Inside Higher Ed just wrote an article tying together two studies showing that many higher ed stakeholders don’t understand—and therefore misinterpret—the term liberal arts.

And who can blame them? It’s an obtuse term that I’d bet many in higher ed don’t understand either. When I ...

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Assessing learning in co-curricular experiences

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (2)

Assessing student learning in co-curricular experiences can be challenging! Here are some suggestions from the (drum roll, please!) forthcoming third edition of my book Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, to be published by Jossey-Bass on February 4, 2018. (Pre-order your copy at

Recognize that some pro...

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Should you collect more assessment data before using it?

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (1)

Someone on the ASSESS listserv recently asked how to advise a faculty member who wanted to collect more assessment evidence before using it to try to make improvements in what he was doing in his classes. Here's my response, based on what I learned in a book I discussed in my last blog post called How to Measure Anything.


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How to assess anything without killing yourself...really!

Posted on May 30, 2017 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (13)

I stumbled across a book by Douglas Hubbard titled How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of “Intangibles in Business.” Yes, I was intrigued, so I splurged on it and devoured it.

The book should really be titled How to Measure Anything Without Killing Yourself because it focuses as much on limiting assessment as measuring it. Here are some of the great ideas I came away with:

1. We are (or should be) assessing because we want to make bette...

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A New Paradigm for Assessment

Posted on May 21, 2017 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (5)

I was impressed with—and found myself in agreement with—Douglas Roscoe’s analysis of the state of assessment in higher education in “Toward an Improvement Paradigm for Academic Quality” in the Winter 2017 issue of Liberal Education. Like Douglas, I think the assessment movement has lost its way, and it’s time for a new paradigm. And Douglas’s improvement paradigmR...

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How hard should a multiple choice test be?

Posted on March 18, 2017 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (1)

My last blog post on analyzing multiple choice test results generated a good bit of feedback, mostly on the ASSESS listserv. Joan Hawthorne and a couple of other colleagues thoughtfully challenged my “50% rule”—that any questions that more than 50% of your students get wrong may suggest something wrong and should be reviewed carefully.

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