Warner on the potential risks of institutional metrics

May 27, 2019

“Metrical cynicism,” arbitrary data, and the uncritical acceptance of historical data as a predictor of future trends are some of the more glaring issues around the higher education sector’s heavy reliance on metrics, writes John Warner. The author levels his most biting critique against metrical cynicism, a scenario in which administrators and faculty realize the uselessness of a given metric while pretending that it is meaningful. The danger with metrical cynicism, reasons Warner, is that it risks undermining potentially useful data. Warner also addresses the dangers of applying outcomes-related frameworks to intangible, iterative learning processes such as writing, reasoning, and critical thinking. He concludes that a degree’s value must be measured according to terms—and metrics—that people find useful and trustworthy. Inside Higher Ed (International)