Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


Finding time

Posted on January 18, 2015 at 7:05 AM

When I work with faculty on curriculum design, teaching strategies, or assessment methods, one of the most common reactions is, “This is great, but when am I going to find the time to do this?” It’s a legitimate question. Especially since the Great Recession, everyone in higher education has been asked to wear more and more hats, to do more with less. At some colleges I visit, the exhaustion is palpable.


There are only so many hours in a week, and we can’t create more time. So the only way to find time to work on the quality of what we do is to stop doing something else. If faculty are expected to bring new approaches to curricula, teaching strategies, and assessment on top of everything else, the message is that everything else is more important.


What can you stop or scale back? My first suggestion is to look at your committees; most colleges I visit have too many, and committee work expands to fill the time allotted. What would happen if a particular committee didn’t meet for the rest of the year?


Next, carve out times in the academic calendar when faculty can get together to talk. Some colleges don’t schedule any classes on, say, Wednesdays at noon, giving departments and committees time to meet. Some set aside professional development days at the beginning and/or end of the semester. Think twice about filling these days with a program that everyone is expected to attend; today it’s the rare college where everyone has the same professional development needs and will benefit from the same program. Instead consider asking each department to design its own agenda for the day.


Finally, look at your array of curricular offerings: your degree and certificate programs, your array of general education offerings, and so on. Each of those courses and programs needs to be reviewed, updated, planned, taught, and assessed. Three course preparations each semester don’t take as much time as four. Look at student enrollment patterns, then ask yourself if a course or program that attracts relatively few students is more important than the time freed up if it were no longer offered.

Categories: Assessment culture, How to assess