When I was a college student in the early seventies, I received a Fulbright scholarship to study cello and musicology in Germany. Although my parents were not particularly pleased that I was going abroad for an entire year, I found the experience of being separated from my family, friends, and culture in a foreign country to be transformative. In addition to learning how to be alone without feeling lonely, I also developed a different, more global mindset as a Black man.

It’s now a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and many college and university faculty members are still grappling with adjustments to their assessment strategies for remote learning and struggling to situate learning and assessment in the unique context of an ongoing global crisis. In this article and video interview, we offer a few suggestions for online assessment during these challenging times.

For the past two years, a grassroots group of faculty at the University of Michigan–Flint (UM Flint) has been exploring ways to encourage integrative learning and metacognitive practice through “signature assignments.” These assignments are a signature feature of the course, and in completing the assignment, students put their signature stamp on the work by showcasing their unique selves, their learning experiences, and the issues that matter to them.

Student activists and non-tenure-track faculty (also referred to as adjunct or contingent faculty) offer much to the transformation and functionality of their colleges and universities. However, both groups are often unprotected and disregarded on their campuses. In the current context of uncertainty and rapid change caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout—which continue to disproportionately affect minoritized and marginalized populations—these two groups have a unique and urgent opportunity to join together and support, advocate, and shield each other as they demand attention and action from their institutions and higher education more broadly.

The announcements last fall that several colleges and universities had begun to cancel diversity, equity, and inclusion programs represented a dangerous capitulation to efforts to further embed “whitewashed” American history into our public school curricula. If colleges and universities are to advance to the “more perfect Union” envisioned in the Preamble to the US Constitution, a truly patriotic education must include all aspects of our history—the parts that make us proud to be Americans, and the parts that may be difficult to acknowledge.

This discussion with Stephanie Droker from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is the last in a series of brief video interviews with leaders of the seven regional accrediting bodies in US higher education. To get an accreditor’s view of assessment, we asked each leader what they have been hearing and thinking about during the pandemic related to two critical areas: the campus climate toward assessment at their member institutions and what expectations the accreditors have for useful evidence of student learning.