My name is Elizabeth Arnott-Hill. I am professor of psychology at COD, and I currently serve as the vice president of the faculty association.
First, I want to express my appreciation of the hard work of the faculty, staff, and administrators who have worked diligently to prepare for next week’s HLC visit. I have every confidence that your excellent work is going to pay off.
As we near the end of the semester, I have been reflecting quite a lot, as I typically do this time of year, about my students and their outcomes, in my courses and also more generally as they pursue future endeavors. Like most professors, I have lofty goals for my students. I want them to develop academically but also as people; growing in general knowledge, but also in cognitive, interpersonal, and even basic life skills. I hope that education changes their lives for the better, as it has mine, and I hope I can be a small part of that process.
It is with those ideals in mind that I struggle when I hear the value of education being reduced to metrics. As a social scientist I am a firm believer in using evidence to make decisions. However, I also know that complex things rarely have simply definitions, much less explanations or solutions.
As we comb through survey results and benchmarking data, I would like to encourage us as an institution to think more deeply about how we are serving students instead of focusing on how to simply improve numbers by developing one-size-fits-all solutions. It is my hope that we can broaden our definition of “student success” beyond a final grade in a course. To draw valid conclusions, we must recognize that one outcome cannot reflect the myriad goals and experiences of our students. Single quantitative measures are not sufficient to measure the multitude of qualitative experiences. And an overemphasis on these single quantitative measures could potentially blind us to the richness of the story our data have to tell.