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Occasional Paper

Publication Date



Americans love ranking systems. Whether we are ranking the hottest celebrities, the top ten singles, the top chef, or the next design star, ranking seems to be built into the American psyche as a symptom of our competitive, aspirational nature, and our desire to quickly understand the value of things.

The purpose of this article is to present our critique of the main weaknesses and contributions of dominant ranking systems, to consider some of the positive and/or neutral roles that they are serving, and to offer three examples of purposes and goals of higher education we think they are not fulfilling. This critique is based on an extensive review of over 100 articles on ranking systems as well as notes from class discussions aimed at unpacking their role in higher education.


NERCHE Working Paper: 2012 Series, Issue 1


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