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What We're Reading: Your AER KC Leaders' Favorite Books

Community Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
April 28, 2023

At our February open AER KC Meeting leadership team members shared thier favorite assessment, research, and evaluation book. They also shared a brief rationale for their selections. Below is a summaray of those selections. We hope you will enjoy this list and perhaps find your next Spring/Summer read. 

Naked Statistics | Charles Wheelan (2013)

A favorite of Erica Eckert - Awards Co-Chair

Here’s 5 reasons to read it:

  1. Wheelan explains complex (but commonly cited) statistical tests in lay language.
  2. Wheelan infuses examples that are both interesting and timely to describe applications of descriptive statistics, correlation, probability, data quality, and program evaluation.
  3. Wheelan sets up a story with the following phrase, “Bill Gates walks into a bar with a talking parrot perched on his shoulder….”
  4. Wheelan explains what happened behind the scenes of the 2008 financial collapse and tells you whether to buy the extended warranty offered for technology devices.  And a bunch of other stuff but those were particularly salient for me.
  5. It’s hilarious


Assessment in Student Affairs | Schuh, J. H.; Biddix, J. P.; Dean, L. A.; & Kinzie, J. (2016, 2nd ed.)

A favorite of Ania Peczalska KC Regional Representative..

Five Reasons Why I Like It:

  1. Geared toward student affairs graduate students and professionals
  2. Outlines key assessment elements
  3. Easy to read
  4. Weaves in case studies to make assessment more approachable and understandable
  5. Discusses ethics


Think Again | Adam Grant (2021)

A favorite of Kim Kruchen KC Co-Chair

Four reasons to read it:

  1. A lot of the work we do in student affairs assessment is also about changing a culture and this book highlights several principles that can help guide professionals in this work. An example, includes stop expecting perfection the first time and asking, ‘what evidence would change your mind?’
  2. The applicability of just a few of these principles would help elevate any assessment culture.
  3. The author, Adam Grant, also offers the context about why we all could stand to rethink ideas in an easy to digest way.
  4. Lastly, Grant offers activities that can help to establish psychological safety in learning cultures that are useful no matter where an organization is in their development.


You Are a Data Person | Amelia Parnell (2021)

A favorite of Darby Robert - Previous KC Co-Chair

 Fiver (and a bonus) reason to check it out: 

  1. The book provides a data identity framework with six components that every one possesses, even if just a little: curiosity and inquiry, research and analysis, communication and consultation, campus context, industry context, strategy and planning.
  2. There are rubrics for each component, so this could be used as a self-assessment for professional development. (and could be integrated with CliftonStrengths, as Eric D. did)
  3. Amelia provides five practical rules, including “know as much as possible about students but do not be creepy.”
  4. She addresses balancing needs, processes, and outcomes
  5. The book uses practical examples.
  6. Bonus: Amelia is just cool.


Honorable Mentions: 

  1. We Need Researchers…So Let's Stop Using the Term Assessment | Rishi Sriram (2017)
  2. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | Greg McKeown (2014)
  3. Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods | Shawn Wilson (2020)