It's a bit hard to specify exactly what makes Buckman an assessment skeptic, but here seem to be his main concerns:
- Assessment reflects a wrongheaded view of the value of education as consisting solely in products, whereas the value of education consists in its being "an engagement between a student and a professor in the transformative process of learning [that] is never reducible to an outcome." (p. 35)
- Assessment inevitably values quantitative measures of learning over qualitative ones, which in turn leads to standardized tests, which in turn are difficult to craft for a discipline like philosophy.
- (related to 2) Assessment demands 'teaching to the test,' resulting in students who, battered by rote memorization, are 'detached' from learning (p. 33)
- Not only does assessment ignore the students' responsibility for their own learning, it rests on a "presumptive distrust that faculty are doing their jobs"; since faculty are experts in their disciplines and are subject to regular reviews of their teaching, the grades that students receive from faculty should render an additional level of assessment unnecessary. (p. 34)
I'm not sure I think that these are damning criticisms of assessment (when done well), nor do they point to insurmountable challenges for implementing assessment effectively within philosophy. I'll hold my electronic tongue for the moment though and ask others for their reactions to Buckman's article.