Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


Some assessment smiles for the holidays

Posted on December 22, 2019 at 8:50 AM

I stumbled across an old folder of assessment-related witticisms that I’ve collected over the years—literally decades. Here are some of my favorites. Unfortunately, the sources of some are lost to time. If you know any missing sources, or if you know any other good witticisms, please let me know!


I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with surveys. (Frank Lloyd Wright)


Measurements are not to provide numbers but insight. (Ingrid Bucher)


You cannot fix through analysis what you bungled by design. (Karen Zaruba)


The lasting measure of good teaching is what the individual student learns and carries away. (Stanford Erickson)


Remember that ‘average’ is simply the best of the poorest and the poorest of the best. (Dan Galvin)


Description of a grade: An inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an undefined level of mastery of an unknown proportion of an indefinite material. (P. Dressel)


He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts—for support rather than illumination. (Andrew Lang)


You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. (Yogi Berra)


The way a question is asked limits and disposes the ways in which any answer to it—right or wrong—may be given. (Susanne Langer)


We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do. (Martha Grimes)


University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. (Henry Kissinger)


What gets measured, gets managed. (Peter Drucker)


To teachers, students are the end products—all else is a means. Hence there is but one interpretation of high standards in teaching: standards are highest where the maximum number of students—slow learners and fast learners alike—develop to their maximal capacity. (Joseph Seidlin)


Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. (G. M. Trevelyan)


It’s easier to see the mistake on someone else’s paper. (Cynthia Copeland Lewis)


For every complex question there is a simple answer—and it’s wrong. (H. L. Mencken)


For so it is, O Lord my God, I measure it! But what it is I measure, I do not know. (St. Augustine)


To those of you who have received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the “C” students, I say: You, too, can be president of the United States. (George W. Bush)


It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it. (Johann von Goethe)


Old teachers never die, they just grade away. (Henny Youngman)


Given particular subject matter or a particular concept, it is easy to ask trivial questions or to lead the child to ask trivial questions. It is also easy to ask impossibly difficult questions. The trick is to find the medium questions that can be asked and take you somewhere. This is the big job of teachers and textbooks. (David Page)


The color of truth is gray. (Andre Gide)


Consistency is always easier to defend than correctness.


Every bureaucracy generates paperwork in a logarithmic fashion. A one-page directive will inevitably lead to a five-page guideline, a ten-page procedure, and a 25-page report. (Ed Karl)


The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant to your critics.


The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. (Dan Galvin)


It’s hard to be nostalgic when you can’t remember anything. Keep critical documents to verify your conclusions.


Stability is achieved then you spend all your time doing nothing but reporting on the nothing you are doing.


When confronted by a difficult problem, you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, “How would the Lone Ranger have handled this?” (Karyn Brady)


The last grand act of a dying institution is to issue a newly revised, enlarged edition of the policies and procedures manual. (Eric Hoffer)


If you do a job too well, you’ll get stuck with it. (Roy Slous)


Categories: Musings & meanderings