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Challenges of Assessment

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Teachers as Graduate Students

1:20

The best hands-on kind of scholarly engagement, was that there would be nothing watered down in these graduate courses. It would be a very stiff, heavy reading. A lot of the—that surely the teachers would complain about, just as much as the graduate students, with one exception, which is that instead of a historiographical paper at the end, which is how most of these courses end, we would have them develop two lesson plans, one based on primary sources somewhere in the course, and then another based on historical debate inspired by some of the readings, that people then would go off and do some more work on.

Each course, which had a symposium at the end at the Newberry Library, the Newberry Library was a prominent partner with UIC in the grant, and we would bring in a scholar to do a keynote address and the like. But really, the primary function of the symposium was for the teachers to show off their lesson plans to their colleagues, and usually we'd get anywhere from 60 to 80 teachers from throughout the Chicagoland area, coming in for those.

Challenges of Assessment

1:18
. . . we may or may not stick a grade on the paper, but we engage with them intellectually on that, and we kind of see where their growth is and what their strengths are and where they could do better.

The whole issue of assessment is thorny and difficult. And, in this case, when we assess our graduate students, we don't have them do standardized scientific, or pseudo-scientific kinds of testing at the end of the course. We have them write a paper, and we may or may not stick a grade on the paper, but we engage with them intellectually on that, and we kind of see where their growth is and what their strengths are and where they could do better. And that's what we did here, and we saw incredible intellectual growth. In terms of trying to document that in any kind of quantitative way, that's pretty problematic. And then, to go beyond that and figure out what's going on with those teachers' students is even more difficult to figure out. And honestly, I'm not sure that it can be assessed and documented in any kind of really genuine scientific way.

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