The Rhetoric of Assessment and Accreditation

Project Type: 

Author: Dan Royer

keywords: rhetoric, assessment, accreditation, Aristotle

Abstract: Assessment is a rhetorical social practice, and as such, the kind of rhetoric we use when we engage this practice influences how we think and feel about the work and contributes to the effectiveness of our practice. Aristotle’s distinction between forensic and deliberative rhetoric provides a heuristic framework for us to think about regional accreditation and local assessment efforts. A close look at recent Higher Learning Commission guidelines reveals that the rhetorical context of much regional and local assessment calls for a deliberative rhetoric and the values that deliberative rhetoric entails. However, habituated responses to existing assessment genres can cause those involved in accreditation and assessment to fail to move beyond the prevailing social order along with its forensic rhetoric of mere compliance and miss the opportunities of progressive assessment practice, a practice that requires a deliberative rhetoric in order to set us on the open pathway of building educational community.