Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Evaluating colleges and universities

Four posts down, I copied excerpts from a NYTimes article about "whether standardized testing should be expanded into universities and colleges to prove that students are learning and to allow easier comparisons on quality."

In fact, major research Universities base their reputation on the prominence of their research faculty and not on the quality of their undergraduate education. Schools like mine pride themselves on providing education to the masses. When my school tries to puff itself up, it points to successful graduates (e.g., an Olympic gold medal winner) and to those faculty who make a name for themselves in the research world despite teaching at a non-research university. My college (Engineering and Computer Science) likes to point to the US News survey when we come out well on it.

I don't like standardized tests for this sort of thing. But they may be a useful way of measuring the quality of graduates of schools like those in the Cal State system.

As part of our preparation for accreditation (which has taken much more time than the effort is worth), we require our students to take the MFAT in Computer Science. These are tests (like mini-GRE's) that test students in their major fields. I would be interested to see how all schools in our class do on these tests. I would also be interested to see how all schools in our class would do if all graduates had to take the MFAT equivalent of a mini-morning GRE, which tested language and reasoning skills.

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