Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


Let's stop the jargon!

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 7:05 AM

I recently read something about assessment that mentioned “andragogy.” Huh? I went scurrying to my dictionary and (fess-up time) Wikipedia, and I learned that the “ped” in pedagogy refers to children, just as in “pediatrics.” So even though the dictionary defines pedagogy as the art and science of teaching—no mention of children—some are advocating using the term “andragogy” to refer to teaching adults, which is what most colleges do.

I read this while I was reviewing the copyedit of my new book Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability, which used the term “pedagogy” several times. Did I substitute “andragogy”? Heck, no! I did remove “pedagogy”—I don’t want to offend anyone who’s touchy about this—but I substituted plain old “teaching methods.”


We use so much jargon that my new book is sprinkled with “Jargon Alerts”: sidebars that explain much of the obfuscating jargon we use: “direct evidence,” “curriculum alignment,” “performance indicators,” “information literacy,” and “reliability,” to name just a few. Now that I think of it, I didn’t include “artifact,” which always makes me chuckle—how many faculty hear it and think they have to be archeological experts in order to do assessment?

I wrote a recent blog post about assessment bullies, and I think the use of jargon can be a bullying tactic. It’s a way of saying, “I know more than you, so you should defer to me.” I’m not saying all assessment practitioners are bullies, of course, but many of us, however well-intended, are guilty of using too much jargon. Can we all pledge to use plain English as much as possible?

Categories: State of assessment