To the Editor:
Gayle Greene’s breathless fist-shaking about learning outcomes only serves to widen the perceived gap among academic disciplines when it comes to teaching (“The Terrible Tedium of ‘Learning Outcomes’,” The Chronicle Review, January 4.) In her essay, Greene assembles a familiar straw man in critiques of assessment: that inspirational goals and measurable outcomes are mutually exclusive. If we attempt to measure what and how well we teach, the argument goes, we can’t teach students to think, dream, appreciate, or tolerate ambiguity. This outdated and ill-informed argument reinforces a sense of disciplinary elitism, all while thumbing its nose at decades of research in teaching and learning. Criticizing the bureaucracy of accreditation is one thing. Ignoring the tools of design and mocking educational expertise is needlessly divisive.
Associate Professor of Geology
Department of Natural & Applied Sciences