Introduction to this special issue

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 16 May 2008



Shupe, D. (2008), "Introduction to this special issue", On the Horizon, Vol. 16 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Introduction to this special issue

Article Type: Guest editorial From: On the Horizon, Volume 16, Issue 2.

Increasingly the question of the public accountability of academic institutions is linked to the challenge for these institutions of providing data on their educational results. This special issue, exploring these topics together, is especially intended for the various external constituencies or stakeholders of higher education that have an interest and role in discussion of these topics governing boards, legislators, federal and state officials, accreditors, foundations, employers, prospective students, parents of students, and others.

Together, the four contributors share the belief that discussions among constituencies and educators can bring about creative solutions. Separately, each brings a distinct and valuable perspective that responds to a specific need.

To be effective in discussions on these topics, constituencies or stakeholders need to understand both the historical context and the current context for such discussions, and Hockfield Malandra’s “Accountability and learning assessment in the future of higher education” provides a rich and indispensable overview.

They need to understand the full range of available choices, and Shupe’s “Toward a higher standard: the changing organizational context of accountability for educational results” describes and compares eight different models by which a college or university can attend to its educational results.

They need to consider how best to engage educators on these topics, and Manning’s “How to Discuss Accountability with Educators or the external stakeholders’ guide to the accountability galaxy” is a practical guide for this, bringing stakeholders up to speed on the key elements that they should understand.

They would also do well to understand that graduate (post-baccalaureate) education has its own context for accountability of educational results, and Lydell’s “Assessing outcomes in graduate education” examines the particular forces shaping discussions of these in this often overlooked context.

External constituencies or stakeholders who read these four articles will be much better prepared for these discussions, and, to the extent that this preparation makes a positive difference, this special issue will have succeeded at its intended purpose.

D. Shupe

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