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Grading the College

A History of Evaluating Teaching and Learning

Scott M. Gelber

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A comprehensive history of evaluation in American higher education.

In Grading the College, Scott M. Gelber offers a comprehensive history of evaluating teaching and learning in higher education. He complicates the conventional narrative that portrays evaluation as a newfangled assault on the integrity of higher education while acknowledging that there are many compelling reasons to oppose those practices. The evaluation of teaching and learning, Gelber argues, presented genuine dilemmas that have attracted the attention of faculty members and academic leaders since the 1920s. Especially during…

A comprehensive history of evaluation in American higher education.

In Grading the College, Scott M. Gelber offers a comprehensive history of evaluating teaching and learning in higher education. He complicates the conventional narrative that portrays evaluation as a newfangled assault on the integrity of higher education while acknowledging that there are many compelling reasons to oppose those practices. The evaluation of teaching and learning, Gelber argues, presented genuine dilemmas that have attracted the attention of faculty members and academic leaders since the 1920s. Especially during the peak era of faculty authority that followed the end of the Second World War, significant numbers of professors and administrators believed that evaluation might improve institutional performance, reduce the bias inherent in traditional methods of supervision, strengthen communication with laypersons, and encourage a more deliberate focus on the distinctive goals of college.

Gelber reveals the extent to which professors and academic interest groups participated in the development of our most common evaluation instruments, including student course questionnaires, achievement tests, surveys, rubrics, rankings, and accreditation self-studies. Although these efforts may seem distant from the present era of shortsighted scrutiny and ill-conceived comparisons, Gelber demonstrates that the evaluation of college teaching and learning has long consisted of a set of intellectually sophisticated questions that have engaged, and could continue to engage, faculty members and their advocates. By providing a deeper understanding of how evaluation operated before the dawn of high-stakes accountability, Grading the College seeks to promote productive conversations about current attempts to define and measure the purposes of American higher education.

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Grading the College

Scott M. Gelber

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Reviews

Reviews

No reader can walk away from Gelber's study without a curious mix of respect and exasperation.

An original and substantial contribution to the historiography of higher education. As far as I know, this is the first book-length narrative to explore the origins and evolution of the chief strands of evaluation that pertain to undergraduate education, especially in terms of teaching and learning. This book will appeal to historians of education, as well as scholars focused on policy and organization.

Gelber's detailed historical analysis of topics that cut across the higher education landscape stands as an original, comprehensive horizontal history. Grading the College tells a great, important story. It shows persuasively that writing about the past is directly pertinent to the present in matters of policy and accountability deliberations.

Grading the College offers more evidence as to why Scott Gelber is one of our finest historians of higher education. Combining rigorous research, sharp analysis, and elegant prose, Gelber unearths the deep and surprising backstory of the current assessment craze. A rich and relevant scholarly intervention: A+.

Scott M. Gelber painstakingly explores the twentieth-century quest to measure the effectiveness of higher education. Who knows if individual professors teach well? How can anyone evaluate an entire campus? Everyone interested in those questions today should read this book. Enlivened by vivid examples from several dozen colleges, Grading the College deserves an A+.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
248
ISBN
9781421438160
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Grading the College
Part I. Teaching
Chapter 1. Teacher Evaluation
Chapter 2. Student Course Evaluations
Part II. Learning
Chapter 3. Testing
Chapter 4. Rubrics, Surveys, and

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Grading the College
Part I. Teaching
Chapter 1. Teacher Evaluation
Chapter 2. Student Course Evaluations
Part II. Learning
Chapter 3. Testing
Chapter 4. Rubrics, Surveys, and Rankings
Chapter 5. Accreditation
Part III. Accountability
Chapter 6. The Evaluation of Teaching and Learning since 1980
Conclusion. How Should Colleges Be Evaluated?
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Scott M. Gelber
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Scott M. Gelber

Scott M. Gelber is an associate professor of education and (by courtesy) history at Wheaton College. He is the author of The University and the People: Envisioning American Higher Education in an Era of Populist Protest and Courtrooms and Classrooms: A Legal History of College Access, 1860–1960.