Measuring the Sublime: Assessing Student Learning in Philosophy

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Arts and Humanities | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education | Philosophy


The assessment of student learning is widely regarded with suspicion. Philosophers in particular have been reluctant to take this practice seriously. The essay reviews an ongoing effort to assess the development of philosophical dispositions among undergraduate students at a religiously affiliated liberal arts college. The procedure used in this effort as well as the results obtained so far strongly suggest that the deep learning valued most highly by philosophy teachers can be measured without harm to the teaching enterprise. The essay argues that in light of a current cultural climate that fails to recognize the value of our enterprise, philosophers would be well advised to clearly define our particular learning goals, develop our own instruments, and to exercise more initiative in assessing our students learning.