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In my role as a vice president for institutional effectiveness, I was fortunate to lead “Think in Ink,” an institution-wide program to foster students’ analysis, argumentation, and synthesis skills demonstrated through effective writing within various majors. I witnessed how internal partnerships and collaboration among faculty and support staff across campus contributed to deep, meaningful integration of teaching, assessment, and learning.

College and university faculty don’t just teach subjects; we teach people. Our role is not only to present content and test recall in our areas of expertise. Although the study of civics and government has definite disciplinary connections to fields like political science, participation in democracy belongs to us all. We cannot expect our political science colleagues alone to elicit the learning that leads to productive civic behaviors. Helping students make connections between our disciplines and our functions as citizens is a part of a holistic education, and a task that we all collectively share as teachers.

When Brandman University added our first fully online courses about ten years ago, the university experienced—somewhat surprisingly—a strong positive reaction from students, resulting in more and more courses going online. Just before the pandemic struck, the university’s courses were 85 percent online. To get first-hand perspectives on why some students prefer learning in an online environment, I asked twenty-four Brandman students and alumni how it benefitted them. Their answers support my own experiences that online learning, when done well, can increase access for some students, enhance educational quality, and support interpersonal connections with faculty and classmates.

In a year of crisis moments, election day 2020 is now only four weeks away. This high-stakes election is converging with a global pandemic, heightened awareness of social injustice, and financial tumult. With declining enrollments, frozen salaries, and migrations to online learning, the truth is that the 2020 election is damned inconvenient for educators. But, with apologies, I am asking overwhelmed institutional leaders, faculty, and staff to do whatever it takes to prioritize student political learning and participation in democracy for the following few weeks, despite the competing demands on your time. It’s not too late to act.

Now that many colleges and universities have published solidarity and commitment statements in response to Black Lives Matter and calls for the eradication of structural racism, what’s next? Institutional racism is perpetuated on college campuses when colleges and universities hire and promote people to positions without having them address their own understanding of systems of oppression and consider what actions they will take to dismantle these systems. The recent hiring freezes that many institutions have implemented due to COVID-19 make this an opportune time for campuses to pause and begin reimagining hiring practices and interview protocols.

For the most part, the same principles that apply to assessments designed for use in-class also apply to assessments designed for the online environment. The most important consideration in any assessment design is validity, which is not a property of the assessment itself but instead describes the adequacy or appropriateness of interpretations and uses of assessment results. I explore three considerations about validity that faculty and assessment professionals should keep in mind as they design curricula, assignments, and assessments in their new teaching environments.

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