Discussions of the humanities in popular media frequently identify the humanities as “under attack.”1 While humanists have made theoretical arguments about the value of the humanities, relatively little empirical research has focused on understanding the contribution of the humanities to human development. Rigorous tools for assessing the benefits of humanities programs are even less common and those that exist have been borrowed from other fields rather than being built to assess programs in the humanities specifically. The Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment project (HULA) is an effort to build a base of empirical evidence concerning the value of the humanities and to build tools for assessing humanities programs that are based on the craft practices of humanists. Our goals are both to provide humanists with a better and more explicit understanding of how their own practices “work” as drivers of human development and to provide empirical data about the value of the humanities in the cultivation of human development, preparation of a workforce, and maintenance of a democratic society. This paper describes HULA’s methodology for analyzing humanist craft practices and developing assessment tools. The first section of the paper outlines a theoretical argument for our approach to studying and building tools for assessment in the humanities. The second section of the paper will describe the methodology that HULA has developed to study the craft logic of humanistic practices in order to build assessments from this understanding. Finally, we offer some brief conclusions about the value of the theoretical frameworks and methodologies described here.
Use the resource links on the right to download the full paper.