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At community colleges "assessment" has in recent years become a fact of institutional life. It is now required by certification bodies. The first year of the three year FIPSE grant was devoted, at the grantorís request, to studying the effectiveness of Great Books pedagogy on Wright College students, where the program had been in place for about six years.
The goal of assessment is to establish a system of detached inquiry that will enable institutions to determine to what degree students are learning while helping faculty pinpoint the areas where their pedagogy is succeeding and where it needs to be improved. Sound assessment typically employs a range of instruments. One sort include objective multiple choice tests, questionnaires, statistical analysis and so on. Another sort may include student evaluations of their own learning and of their teachers, evidence of the application of learning into their daily lives. And of course there are grades and scored essays. Naturally any investigation that can demonstrate the value of Great Books pedagogy for underserved and minority students while providing information that can be used to improve it warmly to be welcomed. This section of the web site, therefore, presents the results of recent assessment efforts by the Wilbur Wright College.
Great Books pedagogy has much to offer. Clearly, practical quantifiable skills like reading comprehension, critical thinking and compositional acumen are of key importance and Great Books pedagogy emphasizes and strives hard to impart them. But Albert Einstein once observed that many things can be measured with physical instruments but other equally important things are intangible and so cannot. In truth the Great Books Curricula came into existence primarily to open up to students a greater awareness of the human condition and the meaning of life, to enable students to have perhaps their first and last and only opportunity - to experience the immeasurably sublime and transforming rewards that follow from growing sufficiently educated to grasp the best that has been thought and said. Faculty created Great Books Curricula from nothing for little or no monetary compensation primarily from a deep love of the wisdom Great Books contain and a deeply related desire to share it with those underserved and minority students who have a need--and a right - to be included in the legacy it offers them.