National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
- Change released its 48th volume that includes articles about improving the educational experiences of students, from writing syllabi to organization clarity.
- Highlighting the need for more discussions about the importance of incorporating a universal design approach to higher education settings, Maha Bali shares a set of questions that may aid educators in creating more thoughtful learning spaces and assignments.
- Serving as a tool for consumers and evaluators, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education created a website titled "Indiana College Value Index." The website presents learning outcome information about the state's public college campuses.
- The Aspen Institute announced its finalists for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Check out the website to view the finalists and learn more about the next steps of the award process.
- Based on survey findings from provosts and VP academics, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario released a report about current learning outcome assessment practices across Canada's colleges and universities.
- The Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education released a report titled " A primer on the College Student Journey" that examines the state of undergraduate education within the United States.
- Dalton State College is engaged in AAC&U's LEAP initiative and high impact practices as part of an effort to achieve the student success and academic excellence standards outlined in Dalton-s three-year strategic plan. Dalton has begun to implement various high impact practices into its curriculum with hope that students experience at least two of them during their time at the college.
- Addressing the topic of using data on student learning, an ad hoc committee consisting of academic, business, and policy representatives contend that colleges need to use student data more responsibly.
- Using Quality Matters's standards, Florida International University (FIU) released a report that includes research findings on how effective 29 of its online course sections were in improving student learning. The report complements other discussions about effective ways to assess online courses.
- Designing online courses to be meaningful to students can be difficult. Anastasia Salter shares some insights about what goes into this practice and how changes in design can improve students' learning within online courses.
- The University System of Georgia (USG) rolled out a system wide digital portfolio software that allows its institutions to engage and display student learning on a new platform.
- Within this commentary, Arthur Ellis contends that discovery and innovation ought to guide the construction and implementation of undergraduate research curricula.
- Amid the changing demographics of prospective college students, recent data from the ACT college entrance exam suggest that college students who took the test are underprepared for college.
- The History Teacher journal released an issue about the American Historical Association's Tuning Project. Within this issue, viewers can read about the history of and faculty members' experience with the Tuning Project.
- The first 10 recipients of the Excellence in Assessment designation are available. These award winners have proven to demonstrate excellence in student learning outcomes assessment.
- The Higher Education Funding Council for England is conducting a series of projects aimed at evaluating student learning and teaching excellence within colleges and universities.
- Addressing the need to understand students, Professor Michael Wesch serves as an example regarding how faculty members’ disciplinary lens may help to explore and understand student experiences.
We cordially invite you to complete a very short survey about DQP/Tuning. Your participation will help us to better understand how institutions are using the DQP/Tuning and advance student learning improvement efforts. The survey should take approximately 5 minutes to complete. To complete the survey, click here. Thank you for your participation!
- Making information accessible, the University of Wisconsin System created a website dedicated to presenting updates and findings about the system's participation in the LEAP initiative. Within the website, viewers can read about the project summary and findings, among other topics.
- Highlighting the importance of evidence-based practices, Paul Lingenfelter argues that evidence-based practices are important to documenting, improving, and presenting students' learning within higher education.
- The nonprofit organization, Achieving the Dream, is implementing an initiative aimed at increasing adjunct faculty engagement within student success reform efforts.
- The Association of American College & University (AAC&U) shared some of the experiences and insights learned during St. Cloud State's participation within the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment.
- With new technology comes new learning opportunities. Scott Cowley, an assistant professor at Western Michigan University, incorporated the use of Buzzfeed into his teaching practice and the results have improved his students' success inside and outside of the classroom.
- The Education Advisory Board (EAB) released a report titled "The Evolving Role of Faculty in Student Success." Within the report, the authors detail the importance of faculty participation in student success initiatives.
- With the addition of David Wiley's post titled "Toward Renewable Assignments," Jason Jones highlights the continued interest in the concept of "renewable assignments," where students' classroom work is re-used for public pedagogy.
- Turning away from conventional tests, Gail Robinson reports on the use of performance based assessments within a New York based high school. Using performance based assessments raises questions about what counts as a performance, but it also addresses issues with standardized tests that struggle to reflect student learning.
- While assessing student participation during classes may be difficult, David Gooblar shares advice on ways of assessing studentss' participation beyond how often students talk during class.
- The theme of the fifth issue of Prior Learning Assessment’s Inside Out (PLAIO) is “Assessment in the Recognition of Prior Learning.” This issue focuses on the tools and processes of assessment with the aim of gathering theories and strategies to help explore pressing topics.
- The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released a report where the authors argued for the separation between learning and credentialing. Thought provoking, the report provides a case for the need and benefits of such a radical change.
- In hopes of making reading a more meaningful experience within classrooms, Charlie Wesley shares advice on how to incorporate reading assignments into curricula while making sure that students are learning during the process.
- While the disciplinary differences between humanities and STEM courses are real, David Gooblar argues that they both ought to use tests and writing assignments when conducting formative assessments.
- Rethinking how learning takes place within higher education, a growing number of institutions are developing or experimenting with alternative learning approaches than the typical learning format within higher education institutions.
- Experiments that confirm the usefulness of adaptive learning software remains lacking, but researchers from the Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Program (ALMAP) have written a report that addresses the potential usefulness of adaptive learning software in light of recent shortcomings.
- What is quality learning within higher education? This report summarizes discussions and presentations made by members of an ad hoc planning committee that sought to examine the meaning of quality learning within higher education.
- Research and Practice in Assessment (RPA) released its Summer 2016 issues that covers various topics related to assessment work and student learning. Check out the issue to find out more.
- University websites are a pivotal communication tool for universities and colleges to share institutional information, but Melonie Fullick highlights how too often these websites are not as transparent and useful as visitors might expect.
- How can students become more involved within assessment work in higher education? Pat Hutchings discusses this question within her blog post, providing both historical background and examples of student involvement within assessment.
- The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions on Student Outcomes related a statement regarding the use of student learning outcomes. Their statement rejects the notion that student learning outcomes should only offer to student graduation rates and employment records. Rather, they argue for an understanding of student learning outcomes based on what students learn during their studies Read more to find out.
- David Gooblar shares advice about how to help students learn after underperforming on classroom assignments and tests in light of logistical and administrative obstacles that may hinder teachers' practices. This advice includes reexamining assignments and tests with students, following-up with students, and having two-stage exams.
- According to Philip Stark, student evaluation surveys do not capture teaching effectiveness in a fair and meaningful manner. Rather, the surveys contain unwanted bias from students that base teaching effectiveness more on factors such as teacher's gender. In light of these findings, Stark argues for new ways of assessing teaching effectiveness.
- Concerned about student retention and success within classes, more attention needs to be on understanding students’ study habits towards ensuring that they are using the best techniques for academic success and growth.
- In line with the practices that emerged from the Measuring College Learning Project, Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum discuss how faculty members ought to be taking a lead in developing learning outcomes and assessing student learning within colleges and universities. Indeed, faculty members can work together and through these collaborations better forms of assessment may emerge.
- Annie Murphy Paul shares her opinion on Benjamin Riley's articles calling for an end to the concept of personalized learning. Paul gives several counter arguments, and in support of personalized learning states that 'people (including children) are more motivated to learn when they have some degree of choice in how they go about learning."
- Faculty members are participating in small, intimate classes about learning how to mold curricula and pedagogy for online learning context. The faculty development programs, such as North Carolina system's instructional Innovation Incubator, aim to train a small number of faculty members in hopes of them going back to their peers and sharing the training.
- Emma Pettit shares updates on the argument that computer screens hinder students' ability to comprehend information, and thus learn, compared to reading in print.
- Videos from the 2016 IR Summit in Washington, D.C. are now available. The four videos discuss better use of postsecondary data, using data for decision making, strategy and leadership, and changes happening to institutional research.
- According to a study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, titled "Measuring Resilience as an Education Outcome," resilience skills may be a useful learning outcome that educators can teach and assess towards improving students' academic success.
- Towards improving assessment practices, Natasha Jankowski argued for more attention on how assessment professionals can make connections with students. Improved connections with students allows for better access to evidence of student learning, and it is this added student derived evidence that may improve how assessment professionals gauge student learning.
- A report by SRI Education found that adaptive learning technology that aims to provide students with online tutoring during classes may be helpful to some teachers and students depending on the context of the course. While the technology in itself was not meaningful to all participating faculty and students, there were instances that adaptive learning may be beneficial.
- Reflecting the interest in colleges and universities redesigning their general education programs, Maxine Joselow writes about SUNY Buffalo and the University of Virginia's recent general education program changes aimed at making their general education program more meaningful, cohesive, and impactful to student learning.
- This report details the Lumina led and funded initiative that sought to outline major components and steps of learning within higher education. From this initiative, three key steps were found to be central – redesign curriculum for 21st, staffing well-prepared educational teams, and shifting postsecondary education narrative as a public good. Read more about this initiative and components within the report.
- The second edition of Assessment in Student Affairs is now available for readers to enjoy and learn about core ideas regarding assessment within student affairs. The book addresses various topics including program outcomes, data collection, and use of results.
- Amidst the US Department of Education’s release of a letter to accreditors that calls for greater data collection of outcomes such as graduation rates, student loan repayments, and job placements, Belle Wheelan and Mark Elgart argued that the Department of Education is misguided and accreditors should be speaking up against this initiative by the department.
- Attempting to assess student learning within six disciplines, the Measuring College Learning Project consisted of faculty members coming together to construct learning outcomes relevant to their disciplines and what students ought to know after graduating from such disciplines. Read more to learn about this project.
- James Lang writes about the importance of cumulative learning for students and shares advice about how to assess student learning with cumulative learning in mind. At the heart of this advice is making sure that students have opportunities to revisit knowledge they learned.
- According to Jamine Utell, teachers learn while teaching too. She shared thoughts about what it means to learn as a teacher.
- Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, was interviewed about her knowledge regarding the benefits and threats to delivering high-quality education to students.
- Peer teaching may be a useful practice towards understanding and assessing student learning within programs. Florida International University is engaging the practice and those interested in the practice can read more about it from one of the university’s students, Randy Juste, who is teaching his peers.
- A new report from the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) addresses how libraries impact student learning. The report highlights four areas of contribution that libraries provide, including student benefits from library instruction, library use, collaborative academic programs and services, and information literacy instruction.
- The U.S. Department of Education released a letter regarding how the department views the increased role of accreditors to assess student learning in the form of graduation rates, retention rates, and job placements at higher education institutions.
- Towards understanding how to assess students' learning of teamwork skills within large classroom settings, researchers from the University of Toronto conducted a study that used online feedback tools for students to self-assess themselves and receive peer feedback regarding their teamwork skills.
- The Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills (DAACS) is an online assessment tool created by Excelsior College built to assess student readiness for college by using a formative assessment model. The tool has potential to identity and provide services for students in need of improved learning environments and opportunities.
- Mary Ellen Petrisko, President of WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), comments on the recent debate over student learning outcomes (SLOs) to highlight the current efforts and challenges confronted when "communicating and working with institutions about SLOs and their assessment processes."
- Julia Schmalz reports on Warren Wilson College's academic, work, and service learning environment, where students participate in all three aspects towards attaining their credentials.
- Benjamin Wiggins discusses the software called TimelineJS and its ability to uphold a multi-semester approach to teaching students, potentially changing how teachers think about pedagogy. Highlighting the benefits of TImelineJS as a tool, among other similar types of software, Wiggins emphasizes the usefulness of this type of software for students to build knowledge continuously.
- The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) released a work-integrated learning opportunities guide aimed at helping faculty members and academic professionals improve their approach to work-integrated opportunities for students.
- Jeffrey Selingo discusses the history and future of Bachelor's Degrees within the United States, highlighting shortcoming and possibilities when it comes to embracing the future of the Bachelor's degree within colleges and universities.
- Researcher from two studies about the possible effects of learning experiences, such as internships and volunteer experiences, argued that these experiences might not be as helpful as perceived. Rather, learning experiences may not improve students' learning or success within colleges, and even the positive effects may turn into negative effects. There is also the risk that students' self-selection to participate in certain learning activities adds bias and interferes with the study of such learning experiences.
- Humanities representatives and employers met to discuss what student learning ought to look like when it comes to students’ progress within humanities programs. The initial meeting between faculty representatives and employers focused on defining skills believed to be necessary for humanities students to know and perform.
- While technology has great potential to change how students learn and how teachers teach, seeking to replace teachers with technology would be a mistake according to online learning experts. Rather, the future of online learning may depend on how well educators use technology as a tool in support of learning.
- Rethinking and going beyond Bloom’s learning taxonomy, Maha Bali shares some insights about creating new learning taxonomies based on an assignment conducted with students. The assignment consisted of students relying on their own values, terms, and interpretations to describe learning.
- Linda Suskie wrote a response to Bob Shireman's essay "SLO Madness." Within this response, Suskie addresses many of the concerns and criticism that Shireman highlights regarding the use of student learning outcomes within higher education.
- Peter Ewell offers a moment of reflection regarding how those within higher education think about the use of student learning outcomes statements, both with and without assessment components. With more careful thought, perhaps the practice of writing and using student learning outcomes can become more meaningful for the purposes of increasing student learning.
- James Popham clarifies the difference among comparative, instructive, and evaluative educational tests and argues there has been an overemphasis with using comparative educational tests, which is having negative implications for students' learning.
- Addressing the growing emphasis on skill development without undermining the emphasis on creative inquiry, Corinne Ruff highlights how integrating career development, experiential learning, and digital open badges are all possible solutions towards combining skill development with creative inquiry.
- Offering students some control within learning environments may help students engage a mastery-oriented learning style, increasing students’ knowledge and skills. James Lang provides some tips on classroom practices that may aid in fostering student controlled learning.
- Jamaal Abdul-Alim shares some insights from a panel discussion at the New American Foundation where Fredrik deBoer, who has a liberal arts background, discussed the importance of assessing student learning within higher education, specifically highlighting the potential usefulness of nationwide assessment across higher education institutions.
- Dan Berrett discusses the shift within higher education from a focus on curricula content to a focus on skill development. This change raises questions about student learning, particularly when it comes to the role of learning outcomes within colleges and universities.
- Researchers who conducted a survey based on 9,000 professors found that professors perceive undergraduate students as lacking necessary research skills. Read more about the study by clicking the link.
- Jason Jones reports on some of the continuing discussions about specifications grading.
- Lauren Hudak and Greg Moran address two misconceptions about student learning outcomes, which includes the issue of whether outcomes assessment is merely a standardization movement and practice ultimately for ranking institutions.
- The think tank New America released a report, written by Fredrik DeBoer, that addresses the rise and future of assessment of college learning.
- Linda White discusses how students can turn their learning experiences into a language about transferable skills for the workplace. Included in this post are suggestions for developing a resumé that reflects these transferable skills.
- Jose Luis Santos shared some of his thoughts on the struggle for underrepresented students to find success within higher education institutions that are more institution-centric than student centered.
- There needs to be a shift in how higher education institutions think about student success. According to Bryon White, at the heart of this shift is a transition from thinking that student success is simply a burden of students themselves to the mindset that higher education institutions must be held accountable in providing the best learning experiences and guidance possible towards ensuring student success.
- Why spend all of class time on practicing to write well? Amitava Kumar shares a teaching exercise where students are asked to try writing bad. Kumar argues that through this exercise, students may be able to use their creativity in addition to learning what bad writing may look like.
- John Gardner argues that more needs to be done in making sure that higher education institutions are responsive to their student demographics and, in contrast to the misrepresentation of his position by Ashley Thorne, he points out that this responsiveness includes thinking about how to enable students to become better.
- David Gooblar shares some advice about helping students complete assignments and the need to try out different teaching methods in creating the best learning environment possible for students.
- The position of Conference and Program Coordinator is open. Follow the link to learn more information about the position.
- The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) released its Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research that includes discussion about the future of institutional research practices as focused on student success.
- The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) released a report about the benefits and future of prior learning assessment within the United States.
- Joseph Holtgreive discusses the importance of failing, or the risk of failing, as an opportunity for students to learn about and assess their practices and goals.
- The American Association of State Colleges and Universities announced the start of a new project titled "Re-Imagining the First Year of College" (RFY) that seeks to promote the learning experiences of low-income, first generation, and students of color.
- Tracy Sherlock discusses the role of co-op placements within universities and how these learning opportunities benefit some students.
- Striving to remain relevant, foreign language programs are rethinking their approach within colleges and universities by making sure their program outcomes reflect their institution's general education learning goals.
- A report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contains insights about the lack of evidence about colleges and universities' impact on student learning. One of the main problems of this lack of evidence is that there is not enough transparency for the benefit of the public and policy makers.
- Seeking to increase the success of non-traditional students in STEM Fields, Steven Mintz reported on the creation of a B.S. in Biomedical Science prototype program that uses various learning approaches, such as assessment.
- Students may benefit from pathways within higher education given that they can provide students with clear, reachable goals towards graduating on time with necessary knowledge and skills.
- Maha Bali shares her experiences with assessing students’ learning by focusing on the process of their learning rather than the product of their learning.
- In hopes of improving student learning within Hispanic Serving Institutions, Jeffery Pierre highlights how co-requisite classes have aided in providing effective remediation opportunities for students.
- The Education and Skills Online assessment aims to test undergraduate students’ soft skills, e.g. communication, critical thinking, and teamwork, when students are admitted and once they graduate. Evidence from this online assessment may help colleges and universities understand if students are learning these soft skills as stated.
- A hopeful example of using data to inform future practices, information about the continued struggle for low-income students to do well on standardized test has inspired ACT's chief officer, Jim Larimore, to continue pursuing partnerships and initiative that may prove students' learning experiences.
- Sara Hebel interviewed Robert J. Jones, president of U at Albany, where Mr. Jones discussed the importance of higher education institutions using their resources and skills to engage the public and begin thinking about and solving complex community problems.
- Based on the experiences of Michael Howell, an associate professor, searching for improved ways of providing students with helpful feedback, this blog post highlights five points on providing helpful feedback to students.
- Professor Jennifer Amos, a bio-engineering professor, shares insights about the importance of assessment as a tool for improving teaching and classroom practices rather than it merely being a tool for accreditation, a message that she shares within campus workshops.
- Sara Hebel interviewed Robert J. Jones, president of U at Albany, where Mr. Jones discussed the importance of higher education institutions using their resources and skills to engage the public and begin thinking about and solving complex community problems.
- Tania Sterling addresses the similarities between K-12 and Higher Education, particularly when it comes to questions about assessment, student learning, and student learning outcomes.
- Eliana Osborn discusses some of the findings from a new report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities that addresses trends within higher education institutions, specifically highlighting the use of learning outcomes, first-year student experiences, and general education design.
- Joseph Aoun argues that in order to prepare students for the future work environment, one where many tasks will be automated, higher education institutions need to prepare students to be creative thinkers that lead the way in creating new theories, arts, and products.
- Kenneth Sharpe and Elizabeth Bolton share experiences and advice about teachers learning to improve by taking initiative to improve their teaching practices through engaging in reflective activities.
- Scott Jaschik discusses some of the findings of AAC&U's report about the state of general education requirements in colleges and universities across the United States, including some of the contemporary ways institutions are engaging general education requirements.
- The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is conducting a project aimed at reimagining first year college for students who come from a low-income or minority background.
- Kelly Baker uses the insights of bell hooks, particularly from her book Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, to argue that higher education institutions need to focus on student-centered learning.
- In full support of the program, Daniel Pianko wrote about the US Department of Higher Education has announced the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program that aims to reimagine US higher education without the Higher Education act and Title IV.
- Hart Research Associates released a report about student learning outcomes assessment within general education programs. Included within the report is a list of findings ranging from how institutions are using learning outcomes to common trends in the design of learning outcomes.
- Davis Jenkins and John Fink wrote a report that addresses transfer student outcomes at two and four year institutions. The report highlights both successes and challenges of student transfer outcomes that institutions ought to consider in becoming more effective in meeting student transfer needs.
- York University created an experiential education initiative, titled YU Experience Hub, aimed at improving the form and content of learning opportunities for students. This initiative includes offering students opportunities to learn knowledge and skills that are backed up by theory and evidence.
- Higher education accreditation is taking heat, such as from the president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation Judith Eaton, where accreditors are being criticized for not being aggressive enough towards ensuring colleges and universities are meeting academic standards and goals.
- The American Association of State Colleges and Universities is conducting a project aimed at improving students' retention and completion rates at 44 of its member institutions. The project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USA Funds, will use a host of evidenced based practices towards promoting clearer pathways for students’ educational success.
- Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering is training students to solve real-world problems with a career-focused approach. Emphasis is put on helping students translate their learning into practical and helpful solutions.
- Brain Mathews and Leigh Ann Soistmann published a book about rethinking library environments as dynamic spaces for learning. This book allows for those interested in library spaces to rethink their approach and practices when it comes to being a librarian.
- According to Kenneth Sharpe and Elizabeth Bolton, more needs to be done in preparing and nurturing college level teachers for teaching, which includes ways of reflecting on and comparing teaching performances. Otherwise, teaching within colleges and universities may suffer from a lack of training and guidance.
- Beckie Supiano shares some insight about the rise of “nudging,” which stems from behavioral economics, where colleges and universities help students achieve particular task by sending them timely reminders, such as with text messages. Nudging may have positive and negative implications for higher education institutions, which may include how colleges and universities go about assessing student learning.
- Darlene Miller argues that to make community colleges more relevant for the future economy, they have to develop stronger relationships between themselves and employers, such as developing pathway programs for students.
- Badges may allow for a unique and informative way of demonstrating student learning. But, according to Gina Howard and Daniel Hickey, a framework is still needed that helps highlight how badges operate as a meaningful educational assessment tool.
- Towards conducting better outcomes assessment, Melanie Nelson argues that outcomes assessment may benefit from being more mindful of actions and outcomes.
- Teaching may make you a better leader according to Steven Bahls. He shares his experience with teaching a course and how it helped him to become a better listener as an administrator.
- The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) released a survey about how colleges and universities are approaching general education curricula in familiar and new ways. Included in these findings is the growth of learning outcomes for general education curricula.
- Bob Biaisdell shares a story about learning how to deal with struggling in the classroom, which may help teachers to be more thoughtful when they think about their own students struggling within their classroom.
- Kelly Baker offers a thoughtful response to bell hooks' 1994 book “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom” in responding to what she feels is currently an unfortunate approach to teaching and students within higher education. She uses hooks' book to argue for more engaged and reflective approaches to teaching.
- Suzanne Bowness points out that technology continues to play a pivotal role in influencing how students learn. Read more about how mobile technology is enhancing students’ ability to learn, offering students a newer multimedia mode of learning.
- The University of Massachusetts Lowell has a Higher Education Associate/Full Professor. Click the link to read more about the position descriptions, qualifications required, and appointment dates.
- Rob Jenkins argues that RateMyProfessor.com may be a good site to receive some extreme, though accurate, insight about how students perceive their classroom experiences. Such insights may change teachers’ classroom practices.
- With an increased number of diversity courses across higher education institutions, determining their effectiveness of such courses remains a crucial issue in understanding their future role within higher education institutions.
- Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation, argued that the rethinking of higher education is necessary in order for higher education institutions to meet future challenges. Included in this rethinking is the need to consider new models of higher education, how the change in student populations affects learning, what does it mean to measure student learning, and ultimately what is the product that higher education institutions produce.
- Determining the learning outcomes of cocurricular activities can be difficult given that the experiences range from internships to study abroad. Within each of these types of activities comes a host of different learning experiences available to students. Amelia Parnell and Tom Green contribute to this concern by discussing how cocurricular activities may match up with forms of assessment and credentialing.
- Aligning learning experiences with program outcomes remains a priority towards ensuring that students receive the best education possible within their higher education institutions.
- As with writing, a good opening statement or activity at the start of one's class may influence students' moods and lasting impression of the class. James Lang provides recommendations about ways of opening a class to help students develop the right mode for one's class.
- Service-learning projects is a part of a movement towards connecting students with communities. But a central question is what type of learning comes from this approach, especially when students are asked to listen to the perspectives of community members.
- Teachers interested in incorporating their research during their class should do so by sharing with students the process it took them to produce such research, where students can engage and assess their process of developing research as teachable moments. This approach to teaching acts as a type of modeling that may help students appreciate their own process to learning.
- While there may be interest and discussion regarding the use of a competency-based education approach within higher education settings, Bernard Bull argued that there needs to be more attention on the importance of being creative and innovative in designing and assessing students within a competency-based education model.
- The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance released an Assessment Policy Paper that provides recommendations about assessing teaching quality that includes concerns about expectations and outcomes. The recommendations seek to establish an understanding between the difficulties of teaching with the concern for improving teaching practices.
- A survey from the Association of America Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) includes data about fewer colleges using standardized tests to assess student learning. Rather, as Andy Thomason also points out in the Chronicle of Higher Education, there has been an increased reliance on the use of other forms of assessment such as capstone projects, student surveys, and rubrics.
- Rick MacLean argues that education is supposed to make students tougher and smarter by keeping the threat of failing real. He argues that without the risk of failing, and rejection, how else can education best prepare students for the real world?
- Although many colleges and universities may not use student engagement data, information about student engagement, along with other forms of assessment, can have an important role in improving student learning within colleges and universities.
- The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) seeks a full-time Director of Research Projects to oversee CIC’s research and data activities. Please follow the link for further information regarding this opportunity.
- Ayelet Haimson Luskov shares her experience with structuring an entire class around students giving presentations about content rather than her simply lecturing, which ultimately improved students learning in addition to her own understanding of curricula development.
- Researchers from the Higher Education Quality Council released a study that examines experiential learning strategies and its effects on students' self-efficacy. Based on the findings, the researchers argue that experiential learning strategies can improve students' self-efficacy.
- Students can have a role in curricula design and Chris Havergal demonstrates this with an intriguing piece on the role students can play in rethinking curricula arrangements.
- The UK Engagement Survey found that universities might not be preparing undergraduate students' sense of creativity or citizenship.
- Are colleges and universities becoming too vocational centered? Michael Clune argues yes, that students are at risking of losing the opportunity to explore ideas through a broad educational experience.
- Giving students the opportunity to assess themselves allows students to be more reflective, thoughtful in regards to their learning. By incorporating metacognitive activities that encourage students to think about their performance they have a greater opportunity to assess their growth in addition to providing insight for instructors about how to structure future classes.
- Virtual reality may be a tool in the future when it comes to student learning. The technology may be able to provide experiences that were once unavailable to students, particularly in regards to students in medical school.
- AAC&U released the first of three reports that uses national survey data and interviews to discuss issues of diversity, equity, and student success.
- E-Portfolios are not a tool for simply quantifying student learning and framing them as such undermines the educational potential of the tool. Rather, E-portfolios are a tool that can reflect more qualitative and in-depth evidence of student learning beyond simple data input.
- Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, challenged both the argument that regional accreditors are too elitist to allow for alternative forms of accreditation or too lax in ensuring that college and universities are demonstrating that students are learning within their institutions. In opposition to these perspectives, she argued that the future of regional accreditors lies in having a common student learning outcomes standards across accreditors.
- AASCU released a video that highlights the successful practices of colleges and universities that increase students’ learning and opportunities for growth. Viewers can hear about institutional success stories such as Cleveland State University’s student advising program and Western Kentucky University’s remedial education initiative.
- James Lang shares some advice about effective teaching practices that may help fellow teachers engage students better while providing teacher’s themselves an opportunity to grow. In particular, James wrote about how the seemingly uncomfortable and/or dull moments before a class can actually be a time and space for learning.
- Is higher education becoming too standardized? Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas argue that it has and that in order for higher education to be revived there has to be more attention and ultimately a shift in belief regarding the importance of individuality, particularly the individuality of students. Such a shift has implications for people conceive of student learning.
- Entangled Solutions released a paper that calls for a “new” model of accreditation aimed at using graduates’ opinions, test on student learning, and graduate’s post-graduation employment record as indicators of institutional success.
- In this Toolbox issue, Brad Garner offers tips for incorporating peer assessment into the classroom. Peer assessment, the process of evaluating the work of classmates, can deepen and enrich the quantity and quality of feedback students receive on their class assignments. To view “Peer Assessment: A Formative Learning Tool” (Volume 14, Issue 2), click here or go to The Toolbox home page at http://sc.edu/fye/toolbox/ to view current and past issues.
- A joint report was released that discusses the usefulness of the “Corequisite model” in improving student learning, particularly for remediation purposes.
- The American Association of Community Colleges hosted a training opportunity titled “High Performance Team (HPT)” training. The training program was aimed at helping administrators and faculty members outline challenges and goals towards achieving solutions to institutional problems, which serves as a model for discussion among faculty members regarding their approach to assessing student learning.
- The Obama Administration used executive actions to inspire accreditors to perform better, such as increasing the need for transparency. The actions aim to make accreditation tougher on college and universities that underperform and/or lack rigorous attention to student learning outcomes.
- Ashley Smith conducted an interview with the authors of a new book titled “Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matter!” The interview includes a discussion about the nature of college teaching practices and ways of assessing and improving such practices.
- The Association of American Universities (AAU), American Council on Education (ACE), and Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities wrote a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Education arguing for accreditors to have different evaluation criteria for institutions depending on institutions’ past performance.
- Christopher Huber and Nathan Kuncel conducted a study that found that colleges do improve students’ critical thinking skills.
- Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, released a statement addressing the challenges of dealing with accreditations in addition to responding to the Obama administration executive actions regarding accreditations.
- Towards rethinking the grading system within colleges and universities, the pedagogy and curricula of “gameful learning” aims to improve the learning experiences of students in order to make classroom learning more entertaining and challenging.
- Is there too much discussion and focus on metrics within higher education at the expense of other pressing educational topics? An anonymous academic says yes, and provides a list of reasoning that outlines the concern over too much measuring within higher education.
- The Association of American Colleges and Universities have released two reports regarding the success of transfer students based on the work of institutional partners in the Quality Collaboratives project. Topics include the use of the Degree Qualifications profile in assessing transfer students in addition to evaluating student transfer policy.
- Amid a host of problems with traditional degree credentials such as bachelors and masters degrees, alternative credentials may help change what it means to learn within a higher education context. Opportunities such as boot camps and alternative teaching preparation programs may bring more perspective regarding what the worth is of a higher education credential.
- The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance released a policy paper that outlines the need for more concern about undergraduate students’ learning outside of classrooms. Professional development, access to university facilities such as the library, and extracurricular opportunities are all additional learning opportunities that affect students’ learning, and as such, ought to be taken as serious as classroom learning.
- Nicholas Lemann outlines some of the contention between professional and academic learning within colleges and universities using Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism as an example for exploring the pros and cons. The thoughtful piece offers readers an opportunity to consider the balance between professional and academic development within their own learning environments.
- The Council on Ontario Universities released a follow-up report about higher education institutions within Ontario engaged in a collaboration process aimed at improving student learning. Within the report, readers can learn about the different projects that have taken place within individual universities in addition to the educational impact of this collaborative opportunity in general.
- The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is creating the Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education that seeks to consider the various learning options present and how it may affect student learning in the future.
- Professors at Southern Utah University are experimenting within introductory-level courses, called Jumpstart GE, aimed at rethinking the role, usefulness, and learning outcomes of general education courses.
- Within this publication are principles and practices directed at integrative liberal learning, particularly for undergraduate education. Readers of the publication can appreciate information relevant to understanding and engaging integrative liberal learning to improve student learning within their own learning environments.
- College electives play a significant role in student learning. Yet, too often these courses are overlooked by educators and accreditors as superfluous. Challenging this perception, perhaps it is time to reconsider course electives as a central piece of student learning and worthy of consideration.
- More colleges and universities are rethinking remedial education with a corequisite model that allows students to take standard credit based courses with the additional of learning support such as tutors. But is it good for all students?
- Are discussions about pathways as innovative as they have been portrayed? Perhaps pathways are just another phrase for tracking students. Marc Tucker argued that for student learning to be truly empowering and liberating, free from a tracking mindset, educators have to rethink the role of standards and curricula to make sure all students are receiving equal educational opportunities.
- Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce released a report where researchers highlight a disconnect between students learning within college and universities and their work experience.
- The American Association of Community Colleges and The Association of Community College Trustees have partnered up with Higher Ed for Higher Standards (HEFHS) to outline a need for greater assessment of student learning within secondary schools, which may particularly benefit the relationship between secondary schools and community colleges.
- Janet Napolitano gave a talk about University of California’s pathway program aimed at helping community college students transfer into UC institutions. The pathway program has had success and plans to expand with the addition of 11 other disciplines. In addition to helping students transfer, the program has also helped a stronger relationship between UC institutions and California community colleges.
- Deneece Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College, shared stories about students who have positively been affected by the presence of the community college when it comes to improving students learning opportunities.
- More higher education institutions and education providers are using alternative forms of credentialing compared to traditional college degrees in demonstrating student learning, such as using digital portfolios and badges.
- During a study about writing instruction within five Ontario universities, researchers found that writing instructors within arts/humanities, sciences and applied fields did not have a standard approach to teaching students how to write, which revealed students receiving different qualities of writing instruction across the five institutions.
- Do higher education institutions that limit speech to avoid microagressions hinder students’ opportunities to learn? Scott Gerber believes so and makes a case for why debate and differences in opinion are more important than avoiding instances of microagressions within colleges and universities.
- The increased potential of technology as an educational tool has inspired some colleges and universities to establish on-campus studios for teachers to record professional looking educational videos. But a challenge that remains is contemplating how such video content can be successfully used during courses to improve student learning.
- Michael Wesch, who is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, has made a series of videos about how to teach students in creative and engaging ways, connecting with students at a level that stimulates their interest.
A discussion is taking placing regarding the concern that the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has removed professional competencies within its engineering criteria without enough feedback. To contribute to this discussion, click here.
- After the release of the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment study, renewed discussions about tracking student learning other than using standardized tests is taking place.
- Amidst discussions about preparing college graduates for employment, one solution may be to rethink career pathways by appreciating the importance of learning across disciplines. More needs to be said about the importance of learning across disciplines in preparing students for employment.
- Data continues to play an important role in conducting meaningful student learning outcomes assessment. With the release of the U.S. Department of Education Scorecard, education leaders have contributed to the discussion in hopes of improving the use of data within higher education institutions.
- Machine teaching, a technique researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison are looking into, may help teachers identify students’ learning styles to help create learning environments.
- Despite criticisms of accreditation institutions, replacing these well-established institutions could be more problematic, especially if reducing or eliminating accreditors leads to more federal oversight of higher education standards.
- The Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment was an initiative aimed at determining if professors could measure student learning by coming together and agreeing to measure student learning based on general education outcomes and rubrics. Results from the study suggest that professors scored students learning as low based on the established rubrics, data that continues to fuel discussions about the usefulness of Learning Outcomes Assessment.
- In assessing student learning, perhaps the best approach is to focus on program level assessment where the readers are third-party people who evaluate program outcomes according to public criteria established by fellow faculty members. Building off the insights and findings from the multi-state collaborative project, assessing student learning could become less personal but remain thoughtful and honest in determining student learning at colleges and universities.
- Excelsior College received a federal grant to experiment with Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills, open-source assessment tool, in order to determine at-risk students and their preparedness for college-level work.
- Southern Utah University is experimenting with a course that offers students the opportunity to complete their general education requirement in one year. During the course, eight faculty members who each represent different departments take turns teaching and observing students. During the course, faculty members ensure that students develop competency regarding each topic addressed within the course.
- Highlighting points from NILOA’s book, Stanley Ikenberry presented three points regarding student learning from a president’s perspective: the importance of collecting evidence, knowing how such evidence is being collected and used within one’s institution, and how to be a leader in using student learning evidence.
- The Student Success Institute is conducting a national study about the relationship between non-cognitive factors of students and student engagement. This study includes a focus on how discrimination affects students’ ability to learn as reflected in students’ satisfaction, retention, and graduate rates.
- The Higher Education Funding Council is conducting 12 projects aimed at understanding whether it is possible to assess student learning across English higher education institutions in a standardized manner.
- How can higher education institutions measure student satisfaction within their institutions? While the National Student Survey (NSS) states that student satisfaction remains high within colleges and universities, there is still pressure to record and improve student satisfaction, particularly when it comes to maintaining a positive atmosphere and sense of community within institutions.
- Grading large online classes can be difficult. Luckily there are tips that might help make grading more manageable, such as accepting limitations, using a timer, and simplifying the grading process.
- Alverno College faculty wrote and released a book about the role of feedback in assessing student learning. Within the book readers can find information about how feedback can improve students’ learning environments and increase their chances of attaining intended outcomes. Click the link to find out more.
- NESSE released volume 3 of its Lessons from the Field project that addresses evidence-based assessment and improvement initiatives within colleges and universities. This volume presents cases about how college and universities used results from NESSE’s earlier reports about evidence-based assessment.
- Change released a magazine that covers multiple topics relevant to student learning assessment. Included in this issue are topics about the relationship between assessment and compliance, career success, and the value of degrees. NILOA’s own senior staff contributed with a piece titled “Beyond Compliance: Making Assessment Matter.”
- Can credit hours be replaced by competency-based education? This question continues to provoke discussions about the future of higher education institutions and the assessment of student learning. Particularly when it comes to issues of access, cost, and educational quality, competency-based education may change how colleges and universities assess student learning.
- The University of Illinois at Chicago has a job opening for a Director of Assessment position with the college’s Office of Academic Affairs. Responsibilities of the position include conducting and coordinating college-level assessment of programs and their curricular. Submit application by November 16, 2015 for fullest consideration. Follow the link to learn more.
- Ensuring that students learn within classrooms amid the rise of increasing technology can be difficult – attention spans wane. The threat of multitasking persists. And at risk is students’ ability to learn skills and knowledge.
- Are engineer students learning enough within colleges and universities? Perhaps they are not. At least this concern is the perspective of some faculty members and companies that work with rising engineer students that seem to lack practical engineering knowledge.
- Queens’s University in Kingston has developed a number of initiatives aimed at helping their students identify and communicate transferable skills. These initiatives include “major maps” that help student track how particular majors relate to skill development, a “co-curricular directory” that allows students to search for extracurricular opportunities by learning outcomes, and a skills workshop that helps students identify and practice talking about their skills.
- Improving one’s teaching and striving towards increased student learning is no easy task. Mary-Ann Winkelmes has designed an approach that may help, which includes focusing on making classroom assignments transparent, reflective, and explicit.
- A report of survey data from 52,000 students who participated in at least one Coursera course includes information about students’ education and career results and motivation for taking the course in addition to other learning outcomes.
- In contextualizing the use of ACC&U’s VALUE project, a report offers concerned constituents, such as faculty members and administrators, insights about the usefulness of the VALUE project in assessing student learning in undergraduate education in addition to analyzing case studies.
- Is competency-based education here to stay? Does it have a future within higher education? Given the transition within United States from a national to a global focus in addition to the rising number of higher education institutions and services, Arthur Levine makes the case for why competency-based education is becoming a necessary mode of learning within higher education.
- What do students’ think about the federal government’s new College Scorecard? In finding out, a focus group of students were asked what they thought about the website. Within the focus group, students revealed information they liked and wanted to know more about, such as student experiences.
The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) Designation program – the first national initiative of its kind – will recognize institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across campus, provide evidence of student learning outcomes, and use assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance. The EIA Designations are built directly from NILOA’s Transparency Framework. The Designations were the joint conception of APLU, AASCU, AAC&U, and NILOA. An article in Inside Higher Ed can be found here.
- A Carnegie Mellon University study found that merely watching videos during online courses is not effective for student learning. Rather, more interaction is necessary. The study suggests that online course providers could create more interactive courses in supporting student learning within online environments.
- What does good humanities teaching look like? Julius Taranto and Kevin Dettmar write about good humanities teaching as making complex ideas simple for the purposes of understanding, and then making those same ideas complex again – a process with implications for classroom assignments.
A study conducted by Christopher R. Huber and Nathan R. Kuncel, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, finds that college students are learning critical-thinking even though the gains are smaller than in previous decades. In addition, pedagogy strictly focused on teaching critical-thinking did not result in significantly larger improvements compared to students in other programs.
- A study found that merely watching videos during online courses is ineffective for student learning. Rather, more interactive activities in addition to online content can improve students’ opportunities to learn.
- The Center for American Progress released a paper that advocates for increased service learning within college and universities. The paper encourages more discussion regarding how service learning can be incorporated into course work and financial aid arrangements.
- In improving institutions’ ability to facilitate student learning, more attention should be paid to process rather than merely results. By reflecting on and restructuring the processes within institutions, rather than merely results and performances, an improved understanding of how institutions support student learning is possible.
- Durham College is hosting an event titled “Experience DC” that will allow parents, prospective students, and current students to become more familiar with Durham College. Included within Experience DC are videos and blogs that shed light on what the college has to offer, content made possible by a teams of students, employees and alumni.
- A worrying number of Canadian students are failing to pass their nursing exam and one main reason may be that the test is based on an American context. There have been some first-hand accounts that American based questions were on the Canadian test, potentially making the questions unsuitable for many of the students.
- A study found that merely watching videos during online courses is ineffective for student learning. Rather, more interactive activities in addition to online content can improve students’ opportunities to learn.
- Rebecca Weber reported on Jackson College’s use of the Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) to assess student learning. The VFA criteria allowed for Jackson College to successful display student learning in a different light compared to criteria often used by research institutions.
- Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario is hosting an all-new webinar series titled “The challenges of assessing learning outcomes in higher education” that addresses how to conduct and measure student learning outcomes. The three-part webinar began September 24, 2015 with a session called “Making the culture shift: Faculty engagement in learning outcome assessment.”
- The Campaign for Future of Higher Education is in the process of writing a paper about the possible negative effects of cutting instruction cost within college and universities. One of these possible negative effects includes reduced student learning. The working paper calls for investment in instruction to improve students’ learning.
- This report, which builds upon AAC&U’s Quality Collaboratives project, focuses on the assessment of key student learning outcomes. The authors provide a framework for better assessing the quality of learning to inform policy, and offer various recommendations regarding transfer from two-year to four-year institutions based on learning outcomes outlined in the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP).
- Crafting classroom assignments can be difficult. Mary-Ann Winkelmes has developed a protocol to help teachers improve their assignments by focusing on the task, purpose, and criteria of assignments. Such improved assignments may help improve the learning of students who come from different backgrounds too.
- Are alternative credentials the future? In connecting employers’ needs to student learning, credentials such as badges rather than diplomas may begin to have more relevance to student success. However, a lingering question is how to value the spread of these emerging, alternative credentials.
- The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General has rising concerns over Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs and the amount of interaction, or lack-there-of, between instructors and students; an aspect of CBE courses that may liken them more to correspondence courses. However, an argument is raised that perhaps we need better safeguards to guarantee the quality of CBE programs, appropriate expectations for outcomes, and continued support for the already 600 plus institutions working to develop these programs.
- College and university presidents can shift the emphasis of the institution from simply doing assessment to using evidence of student learning to enhance the decision-making process. Stan Ikenberry, NILOA co-principal investigator and president emeritus for the University of Illinois, discusses three fundamental points that a president must know about collecting and using evidence of student learning. Among these is the importance of incorporating evidence of student learning in the process of determining institutional priorities and strategic directions.
- Competency-based education continues to expand in practice and conversations. College officials even plan to get to together at a meeting called CBExchange to further discussions about the benefits and usefulness of competency-based education. This is a timely meeting given that the meaning of competency-based education is still evolving.
- David Gooblar made a passionate case for faculty members to embrace student-centered learning rather than credential-centered learning, reflecting on the insights of professor Cathy Davidson from the Graduate Center at the University of New York.
- Have you seen the new college information website called the College Scorecard? Visitors to the website can see information about how much federal loans former students at college and universities have been able to pay back in addition to achievement data and students average incomes after graduation.
- Brock Read wrote an interesting article about a fiction book that addresses the topic of assessment. Amusing and enlightening, the article examines the book Cow Country, a story about accreditation and assessment at a community college.
- Learning is frustrating. Yet, it is necessary. This is the perspective that John Warner articulates when explaining student-center learning. Rather than view student-centered learning as an easy, straightforward progression, Warner highlights the struggles involved when learning new information and practices.
- A good sign of student belonging might be chatty students. At least this is what Catherine Rawn and Gillian Sandstorm revealed within their research of 242 undergraduates at The University of British Columbia, which was published in the Teaching of Psychology journal.
- The American Council on Education (ACE) is hosting a meeting about curricular innovation. In addition to having invited speakers, this meeting will include discussions about two case studies that demonstrate curricular innovation. The event starts at 9am on October 2, 2015.
- Eric Hoover from The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed ACT president Jon Erickson about the past, present, and future of the ACT. During the interview, Erickson addressed multiple points such as using standardized test meaningfully within college admission decisions and the possibility of making the ACT more formative than summative.
- Gale and Library Journal conducted a survey that looked at the relationship between faculty members and librarians within the United States. The survey focused on whether both faculty members and librarians understood the purpose of academic libraries the same way. Results from the survey indicate that they do not.
- George Williams shared his experiences with using a deck of cards to create small groups within his classes. He lists the different combinations of small groups possible and mentions that he too is still learning the usefulness of this classroom method.
- Social Learning for Social ImpactMcGill University is offering a free online course, hosted by edX, titled “Social Learning for Social Impact.” The course will cover various topics about social impact, from globalization to social initiatives. The course will also not have tests, but will instead focus on in-depth conversations and interviews, a notion they refer to as social learning.
- Creating thoughtful, meaningful syllabi is difficult. Luckily, teachers can find useful advice within this blog including insightful steps and pointers that may help teachers reflect on how they approach creating syllabi. Visitors to the blog can also see images and a video that compliments the information.
- JumpCourse, an online education company, is facing criticism that its content and quizzes are underwhelming and do not reflect the academic rigor expected of traditional education institutions. For example, Carl Straumsheim reported that he was able to pass JumpCourse’s online quizzes about marketing without watching or studying the course content. With stories like these, the debate on whether online education providers can supplement or replace traditional modes of teaching and learning continues.
- Jo Johnson, Universities and Science minister within the United Kingdom, announced plans for a teaching excellence framework to hold higher education institutions to a higher quality. This is happening at a time when discussions regarding the Quality Assurance Agency assessment practices are also taking place, with the possibility of creating a single assessment system. There are still discussions going on regarding what metrics the teaching excellence framework should use.
- The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is experiencing tough criticism from constituents and lawmakers. Much of this criticism comes from the concern about ACCJC’s accreditation process. The chancellor for the California Community Colleges released a report that criticizes ACCJC, which provokes the question if ACCJC should still be the system’s accreditor.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has released a special report highlighting the credentialing movement. Articles such as When a Degree is Just the Beginning and Stack Those Credentials discuss what credentials are and the advantages they provide to students in the job market. Other articles talk about why credentials should be supported, how master degrees are affected, and the role of accreditors in the movement.
- Do we still need accreditors? Doug Lederman addresses this question, providing an informative and frank discussion about the history and role of accreditation within higher education. He covers both past and current frustrations about accreditation while highlighting alternative ways of thinking about accreditation and its role.
- A study was conducted that looked at differences between hybrid apprenticeship programs and traditional classroom learning. The study indicates that such hybrid programs may be as useful for student learning as traditional classrooms, specifically when it comes to educating students that are also working full-time during their studies.
- How helpful are buzzwords when it comes to understanding assessment practices within higher education institutions? Jeffrey Young addressed this question and pointed out the importance of making sure that the language we use is useful. Phrases such as “adaptive learning” and “competency-based education” are common, but do they actually help people understand what values and practices these words are referring to?
- The journal of Computers and Education published a paper titled “The effects of technology use in postsecondary education: A meta-analysis of classroom application” where researchers analyzed technology use in post-secondary education from 1990-2010. The findings from the research suggests that there are three predictors of effective technology use, including subject matter, degree of difference in technology use, and pedagogy.
- Determining the value of assessment is a challenge that many faculty members and higher education administrators have to address. In response to an earlier article that questioned the value of assessments, Joan Hawthorne comments upon this challenge by highlighting the benefits of assessments within higher education. This included considering how assessment initiatives have help teachers reflect on their teaching practices, such as how classroom learning can become more meaningful for students.
- The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reported on findings from a survey conducted by the Canadian University Survey Consortium. The survey included asking 18,000 graduates from 36 universities about what they have learned. The survey particularly focused on if students felt they learned the skills that universities and employers hope students acquire as college graduates.
- The Quality Assurance Agency within the United Kingdom stated that university standards must continue to be reviewed by external peer reviewers. The agency argued that external review is what helps ensure that universities are held to the highest quality standards. While there may be some changes to the cycle of assessment, external reviews should continue to play a pivotal role in higher education learning.
- Crafting and evaluating information literacy learning outcomes may be challenging. Luckily, Cassandra Kvenild and Melissa Bowles-Terry wrote a book titled “Classroom Assessment Techniques for Librarians,” which addresses some of the challenges and steps in assessment practices, which may help librarians and others interested.
- A partnership made up of universities is beginning to implement online learning courses that deal with microcredentials and badges. The partnership will offer various student-learning resources, such as online instruction, student skill assessments, and tutoring services. This initiative hopes to help students prepare for employment opportunities without having to commit to more time-consuming degrees and credentials.
- A recent study examined the use of multiple-choice format question (MCFQ)-writing activities to assist instructors with standard peer instruction methods. The findings from the study indicate that multiple-choice format question-writing activities (MCFQ) had mixed results. There was no significant change in students’ learning within classroom, though there was evidence that students’ attitudes became more positive.
- Will a machine be able to determine appropriate curricula and lesson plans for students? This is what researchers are working on at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where they are interested in further quantifying student learning to create such a machine. The researchers believe that if they build a computer based on cognitive learning, it may be possible to craft individualized curricula and lesson plans for students.
- Northern Illinois University revamped its general education program to make it more meaningful for students’ lives. This was possible through an initiative called Progressive Learning in Undergraduate Studies (PLUS). By refocusing its general education mission and learning outcomes, the university has shaped its general education programs towards meeting the needs of students more so than students meeting the needs of disciplines.
- The Department of Education is developing a new online comparison tool. The new online tool is less controversial than the prior ratings approach, but still provokes further questions about how to assess student-learning outcomes nationally.
- There is criticism that much opposition for the OECD Ahelo project comes from elite and well-established western institutions hesitant or refusing to participate in the project. A central concern is whether such established institutions are fearful to compare students’ learning outcomes based on value added assessments rather than prestige. However, critics of Ahelo argue that comparing students’ learning outcomes internationally is too difficult given that factors such as culture would lead to misguided and inaccurate research.
- What are the best assessment practices for assessing students’ non-cognitive characteristics? Towards exploring this question, the Carnegie Foundation is researching practical measurements that may help higher education institutions identify, target, and intervene with struggling students. By exploring student characteristics it may be possible to improve overall student development within higher education institutions.
- Increasing underrepresented students within higher education institutions continues to be a struggle for institutions given a variety of reasons. But many institutions are rethinking and implementing improved policies. Mount Royal University, which is seeking to increase the number of indigenous students at its university, has used research and planning in hopes to create more culturally relevant environments for indigenous students.
- The University of Windsor put “learning pods” on its campus to facilitate students’ learning outside of classrooms. The learning pods consists of classroom-like furniture equipped with power-outlets and wireless internet. The university hopes to promote student learning with the addition of these learning pods.
- With continued concern for preparing students for a 21st century economy, there is also a continued emphasis to assess students’ learning based on skills rather than knowledge. Catherine Maybrey questioned whether this is the right approach for higher education institutions and pointed out some of the limitations of corporate partnerships with higher education institutions.
- The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching has a blog that addresses various education topics related to teaching and learning. A variety of topics can be found on the blog, including topics such as student motivation, discipline, and technology.
- With rising criticism that medical doctors are out-of-touch with patients and rely too much on technology to diagnose and treat patients, perhaps establishing a firmer relationship between medical school and art education may increase medical students’ ability to be more humane. However, rethinking how medical schools train their students towards addressing such criticism is a complicated problem that requires balancing medical standards with patients’ concerns.
- Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), discusses the ways higher education is changing and how AAC&U is working to meet those changes. In the conversation is AAC&U’s work with LEAP and the importance of aligning student learning to the goals of the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) to give degree holders a quality general education along with their specific subject area knowledge.
- Erik Gilbert argues that it is necessary for accreditors who drive assessment to provide evidence of how learning outcomes assessment has improved institutions and/or their students. Having a record of the efficacy and direct effects of assessment could increase faculty participation and support, as well as justify the resources spent on assessment efforts.
- When it comes to students’ learning outcomes within Canadian higher education institutions, should increased revenue still be a leading concern? Harvey Weingarten says no. Rather, more important are questions about the quality of higher education institutions and the value of postsecondary degrees. By addressing questions about the quality of higher education institutions, more useful analysis of students’ learning outcomes is possible.
- Deciding curricula within higher education institutions involves various situations that may be a conflict of interest for faculty members and administrators. Alexandra Logue and Ian Shrank examine this issue towards bringing more awareness and encouraging responsible types of governance that limit such conflict of interests.
- Storytelling can be a meaningful mode of teaching that compliments ways of thinking that are more scientific. Elaborating on this point, David Gooblar outlined various ways teachers could incorporate storytelling into their classroom discussions towards improving students’ learning. By using both narrative and scientific ways of thinking, classroom discussions may become more meaningful to students.
- There is a lack of research on the effectiveness of remedial education within higher education institutions. More research needs to be done to determine the benefits and shortcomings of remedial education. Included within this article are five misconceptions about remedial education that need to be considered.
- Many teachers may wonder how to encourage meaningful discussions within their classrooms. James Lang shared information about effective ways of fostering discussions by relying on sociological research and different practices that may help or hinder discussions within classrooms.
- In rethinking the purposes and structure of end of the semester exams, Anthony Cider shared information about creative ways to conduct final exams. Rather than give students a traditional exam that contains lots of questions and not enough time for discussion, Cider wrote about final exams that challenged students to think, discuss, and argue in ways that engaged students’ competency with desired skills.
- Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for more accountability discussions regarding college and universities’ student-learning outcome goals and data. Duncan also encouraged people to consider new forms of higher education institutions that address student needs. This comes at a time when financial issues are still worrying for issues such as student-loan debt and student success at for-profit higher education institutions.
- A study with guidelines for online learning is available. Some of the guidelines included online learning being multifaceted, mainstreamed, and multifunctional, among others. In addition to the guidelines, the study also proposed eleven recommendations aimed at improving online learning.
- In hopes of improving teaching within United Kingdom’s higher education institutions, public officials and universities continue to consider what a “teaching excellence framework” would entail. By incorporating a research approach to determining teaching effectiveness, a task such frameworks seek to do, assessments of student learning may be more efficient and meaningful.
- Davidson Next, an innovation from Davidson College, provides online test preparation modules for students through massive open online courses. The courses are open to any interested students, particularly underrepresented students. The modules are being tested in hopes of learning more about their effectiveness.
- The City Colleges of Chicago has a job opening for a District Director in Research and Analytics. The responsibility of the District Director is to conduct research that analyzes and evaluates the needs of the City Colleges of Chicago towards improving institutional planning and decision-making, among other essential duties. Follow the link to learn more.
- Have you heard of the improvement science methodology, which is a way for teachers to consider whether their improvements within classrooms make a difference in students’ learning? The methodology consists of three steps prior to implementing a new practice–identifying a problem, explaining the intention of some intervention, and determining what evidence would indicate that an intervention worked or did not work.
- Online learning continues to be a growing aspect of higher education. Such technology may help faculty members arrange and deliver information in concise and engaging ways. But there is also software, such as Remind, that allows faculty members to remind students of upcoming assignments. This type of software encourages further discussion regarding how faculty members should best interact with students to assess their learning.
- Evelyn Waiwaiole argues that community colleges should conduct an audit of advising systems and reconsider the role of advising. Questions to focus upon when considering redesign include examination of what is known about our students, what is known about advisors, and what is known about policies and practices.
- Jacqueline Thomsen reported on an Introduction to Sociology course taught by Professor Kevin Dougherty that challenges traditional approaches to testing by changing the environment and discourse around test taking. In particular, Professor Dougherty’s class incorporates a celebratory attitude and approach to testing taking, showing a positive relation between students and assessments.
- Dialogue offers students and teachers the opportunity to exchange ideas in meaningful ways that too often is not available within public settings. Ryan Hays wrote about the need for dialogue within higher education classrooms and related implications for determining student-learning outcomes.
- David Gooblar wrote about the use of social-learning theory within higher education classrooms, highlighting that the behaviors of professors may be as educational as the knowledge they communicate. From being comfortable in admitting ignorance to crafting syllabi as scholarly text, professors can help students learn through behavior.
- The Community College Research Center (CCRC) argues for assessment practices that help students’ successfully complete developmental education courses. Practices included checking placement test validity, obtaining more relevant information about students to make more informative decisions, and engaging in more formative assessment strategies.
- Anya Kamenetz reported on Dr. Jordan Peterson, a psychology faculty member at the University of Toronto, who argues that goal setting can improve students’ performances, particularly among minority students. Goal setting exercises help students engage a mode of planning that may reduce stress and performance anxiety.
- Thom Markham reported on how instilling positive beliefs within students may help increase their classroom performance. In relation to the benefits of placebo effects, helping students believe they can do some activity better may help increase positive student learning outcomes.
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) released a report about a multi-institutional initiative to use the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) in considering assessment practices for student learning outcomes. The initiative focused on institutions’ associate degree programs, general education components, and institutional learning goals.
- Francis O’ Gorman questioned whether worrying is productive within higher education learning. Since higher education institutions are spaces that encourage both faculty members and students to worry given the pressure of evaluations, O’Gorman understands worrying to be a useful state of mind.
- Anastasia Slater discussed on a report released by Games for Change and Michael Cohen Group titled “Impact with Games: A Fragmented Field.” The report helps address questions about what it means to assess student learning that rely on games.
- Loni Bordoloi and James Winebrake wrote about the relation between liberal arts education and engineering, and argued that the two should be tied together within higher education institutions. However, they point out a few barriers that make such collaboration difficult, such as structural and cultural barriers.
- Ashley Smith reported on the gradual emergence of conversations between higher education institutions and K-12 schools regarding the implementation of Common Core State Standards. In particular, some colleges are using the Common Core-based Smarter Balanced assessment to determine student college readiness, particularly with the use of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
- Caralee Adams reported on an ACT report about American Indian students and college readiness. Researchers of the ACT report found that American Indian students captured within the report were not college ready despite taking advanced high school courses.
- Carl Straumsheim reported on a white paper about developing digital learning environments as next-generation learning management systems. Digital learning environments aim to improve faculty members’ engagement with assessment data by providing faculty members with useful information in a more effective manner.
- A special issue of Liberal Education that focuses on the LEAP Challenge is now available. Topics covered in this issue include the purpose of the LEAP Challenge, institutional involvement, and policy issues.
- The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario released a report on the language of learning outcomes. The report argues that the diversity in language used to talk about learning outcomes is a potential challenge in understanding learning outcome statements.
- Data Quality Campaign posted a video and infographic that looks at how student data can come in many forms. Student data can mean different things and have different meanings depending on the perspective one takes. The video and infographic provide useful insights into questions about what is student data and what it may mean for those concerned about the quality of education.
- Anthony Bryk wrote about the need for establishing quality outcomes towards improving student learning. The Six Improvement Principles, developed from conversations with organizations, can serve as a starting point for conversations about quality student learning outcomes.
- Meg Bernhard wrote about the potential benefit of connecting student learning outcome goals with the design of student group work. This includes understanding the social dynamics involved within group work and how it may affect student learning. Having clear expectations about group work activities may alleviate potential problems students’ experience.
- Scott Bunyan, Linda Jonker, and Nicholas Dion reported on a study that examined the affect of developmental communication courses among students that did not meet college-level English proficiency. The study found that courses improved students test scores on the WritePlacer test, indicating that such communication courses may help student readiness.
- The Higher Education Funding Council for England conducted a review of UK’s external examining arrangements and found that academic standards could be strengthened. This report includes suggestions for training and organization that might improve examining arrangements.
- Bob Woods wrote about the need for clearer pathways for completion within community colleges. He provided a discussion on approaches from statewide efforts to partnership initiatives, along with providing institutional examples.
- Pillips and Yopp argued that K-12 schools and higher education institutions ought to work closer together in determining student readiness as they transition from high school to college. They point out political obstacles that hinder such partnerships, all of which may have a negative effect on student learning and ultimately the economy. They present Tuning USA as a viable option for people to consider in thinking about how to establish a partnership between K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
- Sarah Fentem reported on Purdue University starting a degree program that evaluates student learning based on competency-based learning rather than credit hours. This will be the first public institution in Indiana to offer a degree program based on competency rather than credits. The degree program will use e-portfolios to determine student learning throughout the program.
- Caryn Musil wrote an AAC&U report about student learning outcomes regarding civic learning among undergraduate students. The report includes discipline specific information about what it means to engage in civic learning and provides information that may help improve teacher’s teaching and assessment practices around civic learning.
- Don Kilburn wrote about the need to reduce the cost of remedial education in higher education institutions, particularly among community colleges, and how more effective assessment practices might reduce the cost of remedial education. He highlighted how programs like Emporium Model allow for more assessments throughout students’ learning. Teachers who take advantage of various learning technologies may help students succeed through personalized learning experiences.
- Phil McRae wrote an essay about the history, potential benefits, and potential shortcomings of “blended learning,” which refers to a mixture between online and face-to-face education. While blended learning may provide cost cutting measures that help personalize learning and provide students with a student-centered experience, there is little evidence that blended learning is effective or even novel. While this method may hold potential, more assessment of its practices is needed.
- ACT released its annual report titled “The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2014,” which addressed issues regarding recent high school graduates’ academic achievement, opportunity for growth, and aspirations, among other information. This report is a resource for teachers and administrators concerned about assessing students’ college readiness.
- Colleen Flaherty, in Inside Higher Education, wrote about the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology’s recent proposal to reduce “soft skill” learning outcomes within their recommendations for effective engineering programs. A central concern is that these soft skills, such as lifelong learning, are too difficult to assess and not essential to an engineering degree. However, other engineering faculty-members have argued that such soft skills not only separate American engineer students from others, but also that assessing such skills is possible.
- David Gooblar wrote about his struggle to decide how to design a course prior to it beginning, yet, still have a student-centered class. At what point does a teacher “instruct” students or let students guide the learning process? An initial point Gobbler makes is that perhaps it is best to make sure that students know the expectations of their teacher upfront. Once the teacher establishes these expectations, students’ creativity can guide the learning process towards those expectations as the teacher facilitates.
- Manuela Ekowo wrote about the need for minority students to not only graduate from colleges or universities, but to obtain the most beneficial credentials too. Whether a degree or non-degree credential, minority students need to consider the type of skills that employers want in order to hire them. Part of this situation is that the meanings behind credentials are often not clear among colleges/universities, employers, and students.
- The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reported on a study that found students who participated in tutorials early and throughout a class session had higher academic performance than students who did not participate in tutorials. Students from various social and economic backgrounds participated in the tutorials. This study suggests that incorporating more formative assessments, such as tutorials, may be beneficial for teachers’ overall assessment practices.
- Meg Bernhard wrote about the shortcomings of student evaluations in determining teacher quality and questioned what other forms of assessment may help determine teacher quality. In light of this goal, Bernhard highlighted Carl Wieman’s idea that perhaps teachers should be assessed based on how many quality practices they use. This discussion encourages debate regarding how best to assess teacher performance and to what extent such assessments can be standardized.
- Trudy Bers, Marc Chun, William Daly, Christine Harrington Barbara Tobolowsky and Associates wrote a book about critical thinking and skill development. The book uses case studies to encourage educators to think about how to promote students’ critical thinking abilities. This resource may help those interested in assessing students’ critical thinking ability by promoting a rich discussion.
- Roger Williams wrote about the Lumina Foundation’s effort to increase college degrees, particularly for those within Southwest Florida. Williams highlighted Lumina’s teamwork with the FutureMakers Coalition and the use of coaches towards creating an improved environment to increase college student attainment.
- Inside Higher Education reported on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group’s newly released principles aimed at being a framework towards establishing quality higher education.
Jacqueline Thomsen reported on the creation of a competency-based teacher education program. The new program, called the Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning and funded by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, aims to develop teachers based on competencies rather than credits. The teaching will be available online and the courses available to others interested in competency-based teacher education programs. Creator, Arthur Levine spoke about the academy as changing teacher preparation from counting students seat time to competency-based learning when it comes to assessing the skill of potential teachers.
- Paul Fain reported on the assessment tool, Compass, being phased out by ACT due to a combination of decline in Compass users and research which suggests that Compass may not be as accurate in capturing student readiness. ACT is pursuing alternative ways of assessing student readiness.
- James Lang wrote about Carol Dweck’s notion of mind-sets, which refers to how students perceive their performance in relation to a task or test. The argument focuses upon whether students should be praised or criticized based on their performance in relation to innate ability or effort.
- Barry Schwartz wrote about the need for colleges and universities to ponder what it means to teach students “how to think.” Especially for Liberal Arts colleges, there is a need to define clear learning outcomes about what they expect and what outcomes means for their students, i.e. the ability to think well. Schwartz provided a list of virtues that may aid this discussion, such as the love of truth and wisdom.
- Paul Fain wrote about the rising agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions in developing a common framework for assessing student learning outcomes in competency-based education. The Department of Education supported the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions competency-based framework as beneficial to assess students’ experiences in competency-based education.
- Michael Rouleau wrote about Eastern Connecticut State University’s student learning initiative that connects students with community organizations. This form of learning allows students to connect classroom knowledge with real-world experiences and brings the university closer to community needs. At the end of the service learning experiences, professors assess students’ learning by evaluating students’ poster presentations and articles about their service learning experience.
- Melissa Dennihy argued that the importance of assessment is to create an environment were educators effectively evaluate their own and students’ performances while also proving how effective particular educational initiatives are for students. She also argued that assessment is important from both administrative and pedagogical perspectives in order for educational spaces to be of high quality.
- Western Governors University and Wiley are scheduled to release a new journal about competency-based education. Readers can expect the first issue in the beginning 2016. Those interested in submitting to the journal can expect calls for submission in July.
- Researchers from OCAD University conducted a study regarding how faculty from their University’s School of Design crafted online learning resources and how students responded to such courses. Findings revealed that faculty reported an improved sense of understanding between their teaching practices and student learning by working together. However, students were curious about the value of the online courses.
- The Summer 2015 Issue of Research and Practice in Assessment is now available. Viewers to the journal can read articles regarding student-learning outcomes in addition to student development. This issue fosters discussions regarding assessment practices and the meaning of student learning outcomes.
- Carl Straumsheim reported on a study regarding whether using technology during classes negatively affects student-learning outcomes. In particular, researcher Jeffery Kuznekoff conducted a study to determine the relation between smartphone use in a communication class and students’ ability to retain knowledge. The results showed that while students were mostly distracted by smartphone use via texting, the devices had the potential to operate as mini-quizzes during the classes.
- Marc Tucker argued that human beings rather than computers should assess students’ work. While having human being assess students’ work is more expensive, it may have a more positive impact on both students’ learning outcomes and teachers’ professional responsibility. In particular, teachers working together to assess students’ work can help establish clearer understandings of what particular learning outcomes mean and how to effectively teach them during classes.
- Hunter Rawlings argued that the responsibility of student learning outcomes in higher education institutions is on students and their ability to perform in addition to colleges and universities’ ability to craft and deliver curricula. In this sense, student-learning outcomes reflect how higher education institutions and students collaborate to produce worthwhile educational environments.
- Dr. Natasha Jankowski, Associate Director of NILOA, wrote about the need for higher education institutions to involve students within assessment practices. She highlighted the need for students to feel a sense of ownership in student learning outcome assessments and argued that while students are learning from colleges and universities, current assessment practices are not reflecting this growth given a lack of transparency to and with students.
- At a time when answers are readily available via a quick internet search pedagogy has to adapt. One such way could be by stressing a process-based approach to problem-solving where students engage with questions and learn to think critically as opposed to memorizing the steps toward an answer.
- A new video series on personalized learning funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to look inside high technology classrooms across five colleges to provide an account on how this pedagogical approach is emerging.
- The necessary knowledge and information to perform a job changes so rapidly that course content becomes outdated by the time students begin working. Instead, the skills students gain from their coursework and experiences are more important. If students major in areas of study that they are genuinely interested in, then they are more likely to develop the skills employers value.
- Jamie Merisotis argues that despite the potential for future college graduates to have better job prospects than pervious graduates, there is still a lack of understanding among employers about how such degrees translate into relevant skills. For this reason, more needs to be done within higher education institutions to clarify the meaning behind their degrees. Merisotis presents the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) as one framework that may aid this process.
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators has released the International Professional Competencies which defines the competencies necessary for professionals in various levels of international education.
- The High Potential Program at a San Francisco Bay Area college aids first-generation students navigation through college. Through peer mentoring and other support services, the program has helped to significantly increase retention rates.
- Researchers Scott Bunyan, Linda Jonker, and Nicholas Dion conducted a study on the effects of a developmental communication course among first-year students at four Ontario colleges. Findings revealed that the developmental communication course improved 55% of participating students’ performance on a communication test.
- The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) created a framework for assessing and approving competency-based education programs. The framework seeks to establish a basic language and set of practices regarding the assessment of student learning outcomes within competency-based education programs.
- The Geosciences Department at Salt Lake Community College used the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) for their geography and geospatial technology programs. Among the outcomes were the creation of a new capstone course and the modification of program and course level ePortfolio assignments.
- High-stakes accountability systems have not improved student performance at the high school level in areas such as math, and have decreased student’s performance in other areas. Marc Tucker argues that skills such as understanding the difference between right and wrong and ability to think out-of-the-box to solve complex issues are not measured in standardized tests and are unaccounted for in high-stakes accountability systems; but they are equally as important as math and reading scores.
- The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University provides students from any Stanford college the opportunity to engage in courses that teach design thinking – a problem solving approach applicable to any discipline or field. As a part of ACC&U’s LEAP Challenge and Signature Work project, the Institute groups students in collaborative, multi-disciplinary groups that allow students to be challenged by different approaches from peers of diverse backgrounds and disciplines in an attempt to address real-world problems.
- A new report funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offers a review of the history of MOOCs as well as a window into future directions. Included in this is an overview of credentials for online courses and assessment, future directions of research, and an analysis of emerging technology infrastructures that further support faculty and the development of MOOCs.
- Simply having technology in the classroom will not automatically translate into learning outcomes. Instead, students should learn with technology as opposed to learning from it, and technology should be implemented into the classroom with learning outcomes already in mind.
- A student advisory board at Indiana University- Bloomington is asking the university to implement High Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) more widely and encourage student participation. Among their recommendations are for the institution to require students to engage in HIPs at an earlier time in their education and for the university to collect more/better data on students’ participation.
- A new study finds that student’s perceptions are mostly aligned with those of employers. Students acknowledge the importance of learning skills that are applicable for both their major and the workplace. However, students feel more optimistic about how well-prepared they are for the job market compared to employers. In addition, the majority of college students indicate that their institutions have communicated their intended learning outcomes in various ways.
The Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) allows community colleges to compile data that are more reflective of the work community colleges do, and to compare performance at similar institutions. The VFA is in use at 25 of the 28 community colleges in Michigan, and results will be used to inform the state on metrics such as retention and credit accumulation. Another article on the VFA can be found here.
- Far too often, assessments are thought of as grading, but assessments serve many other functions. For example, performance-based assessment allows for the evaluation of student’s abilities to solve real-world problems through using critical thinking.
- Examiners from 20 universities in the UK awarded significantly different scores to the same assignments. Some forms of assessment have come under scrutiny in England after a review deemed assessment criteria to be complex and subjective, which can yield high variability in determining what constitutes good and bad work.
- Hans de Wit will become director of Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education in the fall of 2015, and he wants the Center to begin analyzing why there is a lack of collaboration between higher education institutions in Latin America. In addition, he expects to develop a master’s program in higher education internationalization at Boston College.
- The OECD’s Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (Ahelo) aims to measure the quality of teaching at the university level. In addition, Ahelo’s feasibility study analyzes what students know and can do at graduation.
- Simply enrolling a significant number of underrepresented students in college campuses does not necessarily result in positive learning experiences for students. A new study finds that negative diversity interactions can have a negative effect on students’ critical thinking skills regardless of race/ethnicity. It is important for college campuses to create opportunities for positive interactions among a diverse student body both in and out of the classroom.
- AAC&U has released 16 new case studies under their Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) initiative. Each case study consists of a student case and facilitator’s guide, to aid faculty with incorporating assignments and modules that engage students in integrative and problem-based inquiry.
- Given that approximately 50 to 70 percent of community college students require developmental math courses and only a third of those students actually complete them, the Mathways Project looks to offer an alternative way to ensure these students succeed. For example, the Mathways Project aligns math content to specific fields of study and teaches at an accelerated pace to help students stay on track.
- Faculty buy-in and support is key for outcomes-based education (OBE). Institutions looking to implement OBE policies should look to engage faculty and provide support; such as guidance during program reviews or facilitating conversations about learning outcomes.
- Colleges and Universities know more now than they ever did about student outcomes and the impact their degrees have on graduates’ lives. It is increasingly important to share the results and use them to improve policy.
- Tysen Kendig, vice president for communications at the University of Connecticut, answers several questions on outcomes assessment; specifically which metrics are overlooked by institutions, effective ways to demonstrate learning outcomes to different constituents, and how to create a distinct outcomes narrative for your institution.
- Rob Jenkins offers seven conditions which must exist in order for students to learn and discusses the ways teachers can provide them. Among these are awareness, motivation, engagement, and support.
- Alverno College is looking for institutions to attend the 39th Annual workshop held June 8-10, 2015. Attendees will learn about educational principles and practices, innovations, curricular implications, performance assessment, and the development of competencies.
- “This publication calls for a re-envisioning of general education with clear, purposeful pathways for all students, allowing them to actively demonstrate their learning through high-impact practices and teaching strategies that are transferable across disciplines, departments, institutions, and even state systems. It addresses how this general education framework helps to foster essential capacities for career, citizenship, and global engagement for today's diverse and mobile students.”
- David R. Anderson, president of St. Olaf College, offers a glimpse into the culture at his institution which drives St. Olaf College to not only continuously assess their students learning outcomes but to also make use of and publicly share the results.
- Jo Beld, vice president for mission and professor of political science at St. Olaf College, explores the various assessment strategies that institutions, with a special focus on Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), can utilize. She offers various questions for MSIs to ask themselves before beginning their assessment, an analysis of various assessment instruments, and advice on each approach.
- Jacksonville State College (JSU) is looking to hire an Assessment and Advisement Specialist. This position provides expertise and support to the college for assessment of student learning outcomes, use of results for continuous improvement, and improving academic advisement for students. The position closes June 01, 2015.
- Brian Mathews discusses the ways that Virginia Tech has made use of various library spaces in order to create learning environments for students. Through reimagining what the classroom can look like, they have made multi-purpose rooms that encourage collaboration between students and departments, increase creativity and inquiry, and help increase the ways teaching and learning occur.
- The General Education (GE) Pathways program developed at California State University at Chico is making its way through both California State University at Northridge and Pierce College. Modeled after AAC&U’s General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs), the GE Pathways allows students to develop a clearer path through their general education requirements and aid in the transfer process.
- John Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, shares four lessons learned by his online-only college to help students succeed. Among the lessons are to recognize learning in all its forms and lessen barriers to students, and to make courses as interactive as possible (e.g. animations, videos, interactive exercises) to keep students engaged.
- The new issue of the International Journal of ePortfolio (IJeP) (Volume 5, Number 1) is now available. Included in this issue are articles on the development and sustainability of ePortfolios in counselor education, the role of faculty in general education and ePortfolios, student perceptions of ePortfolio use, and more.
- As pedagogy changes to better engage students and create richer learning experiences, it is useful to consider pedagogical approaches that yield positive insight on how to teach certain groups of students. For example, a study led by Nilanjana Dasgupta at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that women feel less anxious when working in groups comprised of mostly women, and they were found to be less likely to speak up when the group is 50% or more male.
- Connect2Complete (C2C) is a model that integrates service-learning and peer advocacy into developmental education to better support underprepared students for college. Early implementation of C2C shows promising results, among them increased retention and persistence rates. The resource guide explains the C2C model, offers resources for implementation and evaluation of C2C, and includes samples of materials developed by other colleges using C2C.
- Northern Virginia Community College is reimagining its academic advising system with the help of a new online approach called GPS to Success. The new approach requires all first-year students to take entrance exams, meet with their advisor before classes begin, and attend orientation. In addition, the college is using an early intervention system known as SAILS to immediately alert counselors if students are struggling academically.
- Boston College used design thinking, an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, to revamp their curriculum. While the process was brought forth by an outside consulting firm, faculty were still at the center. The fundamental aspects of the curriculum did not change, but two interesting new course tracks were added to the core which feature six-credit courses with lab sections and paired interdisciplinary seminars bound by a common topic.
- Judy Mortrude provides various key takeaways from new studies that confirm long-term impacts of Adult Basic Skills (ABS) programs. Among them are significant increases in long-term educational and economic outcomes, and an increase of overall GED attainment from 16% to 36%.
- The new issue of Peer Review titled Faculty Leadership for Integrative Liberal Learning is now available. Topics covered in this issue include faculty collaboration and community building, creating a culture beneficial for integrative learning, and a case from Bard College on integrative learning.
- Boston College used design thinking, an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, to revamp their curriculum. While the process was brought forth by an outside consulting firm, faculty were still at the center. The fundamental aspects of the curriculum did not change, but two interesting new course tracks were added to the core which feature six-credit courses with lab sections and paired interdisciplinary seminars bound by a common topic.
The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence recognizes the continuous improvement and strength of community colleges across four domains: completion, labor market, learning, and equity. The 2015 winner is Santa Fe College which had a student transfer rate to a four-year institution double the national average. The report highlights the outcomes of Santa Fe College and the other finalists, and a description on how these colleges achieve excellence. An article on the Aspen Prize can be found in the Chronicle.
- Robert Kelchen analyzed the list of colleges facing financial scrutiny under three accountability measures: cohort default rates, financial responsibility scores, and heightened cash monitoring. After finding little overlap, Kelchen suggests that the U.S. Department of Education make public information on why and how colleges are subject to these measures. This would help prospective students and stakeholders make better informed decision regarding these institutions.
Findings of a NILOA report, Focused on What Matters: Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes at Minority-Serving Institutions, shed light on the issue that Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) are not adequately portrayed in the national picture when it comes to assessing student learning. Additional takeaways from the report are highlighted by the Penn Center for MSIs.
Over the past six years, the attainment rate of Americans with a college degree or credential has only increased by 2.1%. This moderate increase poses a challenge for Lumina Foundation and their goal of having at least a 60% college attainment-rate by the year 2025. In order to help reach their goal, Lumina will increase their focus on underrepresented students, on Americans who have attended college but did not attain a degree, and will include nondegree postsecondary certificates and credentials. Another article on this topic can be found here.
- At Odessa College, accountability is tailored so that faculty are in the driver’s seat. A couple of the key takeaways from Odessa College include using metrics that help predict what students need to succeed and creating a sense of urgency within the institution.
A new report, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), explores various ways to teach students about the nature of expertise, authority, and credibility, and provides practical ways to help students reflect on their beliefs, biases, and interpretations.
The American Enterprise Institute's Center on Higher Education Reform has released two reports on Competency-Based Education (CBE) focused on uncovering employers' perceptions on CBE and best practices for assessing CBE programs, respectively. In addition, Inside Higher Ed has released New Debates About Accountability, a collection of articles and opinion essays on accountability. There will be a webinar discussing New Debates April 29 at 1:00pm CST.
- Ashley A. Smith holds a Q&A with Thomas R. Bailey, Shanna S. Jaggars, and Davis Jenkins from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College and authors of Redesigning Community Colleges. Topics discussed include how guided pathways may impact students' ability to broaden their college experiences and how this plan fits within proposed free community college policies.
- Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum, authors of Aspiring Adults Adrift, discuss whether colleges are preparing students for smooth transitions into adulthood and not just whether a college degree is worth the cost. They find that many students advance through college without improving their critical thinking skills and students are devoting significantly less time to academic pursuits than in previous decades.
- Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA, urges campuses and administrators to increase the involvement of student affairs professionals in numerous activities, not just those related to national headlines. He explains the value that student affairs professionals have and the experiences they share that can advance campus efforts. Various examples are provided of colleges and universities where student affairs partnered creatively with other departments.
- Ithaka S+R, a nonprofit research organization, analyzed 12 studies that compared learning outcomes from face-to-face and online or hybrid courses. There were no significant differences between learning outcomes and the modes of delivery. Researchers suggest future studies focus on cost and long-term results (e.g. retention and graduation rates).
- Norm Jones and Harrison Kleiner, Utah State University, call for faculty-led reform in assessing students' career readiness. They describe their experience with the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) at Utah State University and the outcomes of their degrees – regardless of major – as producing students who are critical thinking citizens that communicate clearly and are equipped with the skills needed for today’s workplace.
- Congress is reassessing the accreditation process for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. In essence, two proposals call for increased transparency in the process, different levels of accreditation, increased flexibility, and the establishment of new accreditation committees.
- Teachers and faculty should be aware of their learning outcomes in writing courses and appropriately tailor their assignments to fit those goals. A study found that students writing in blogs and journals took different risks in their writing, approached topics differently, and engaged in differing levels of reflection compared to essays.
- Birmingham Young University (BYU) found that students receive the same learning outcomes in flipped and non-flipped classrooms when students are engaged in Active Learning. This style of teaching calls for students to be active participants and construct their own knowledge, as opposed to just being passive receptors, in the learning process.
- Casey Fabris introduces various new teaching methods and technologies that create a new set of challenges for students with disabilities to overcome. Among these are flipped classrooms, online course readings, and the use of clickers. These can reduce participation and engagement by students with disabilities, negatively affect grades, and hamper instead of enhance their learning.
A new handbook by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) serves as a resource for faculty and administrators to design and assess program-level learning outcomes. The handbook includes tips, examples and case studies, and recommendations on methods for developing program-level learning outcomes and assessment.
- Innovations, changing student demographics, and increases in tuition have contributed to growing concerns over the quality of college teaching. This has led educators to adapt various tools and strategies to enhance their teaching. This positive restlessness, or ongoing efforts to continually improve, in the part of both educators and administrators has shown positive results, and can lead to substantial improvements.
- Brian Mathews discusses a teaching method of Tim Baird, Virginia Tech, who promotes intrinsic and self-regulated learning. Baird allowed his students to skip class three times during the semester to explore personal interests, and then present it to the class; a concept he called Pink Time. This would allow students to bring external experiences into the classroom, and hopefully take concepts learned in the classroom and apply them to everyday situations.
- A report by the U.S. Department of Education highlights numerous limitations and consequences associated with a society that has a significant percentage of low-skilled individuals. In addition, the report gives interrelated strategies to meet various goals, such as increasing access to higher education/occupational training and closing achievement gaps.
Anastasia Salter discusses Working Examples, a community website used for sharing and discussing educational projects as they progress in order to draw insights and questions about the process
The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at City University of New York has resulted in numerous positive gains for community college students. Transfer rates, increased enrollment, three year graduation rates, and lowered cost per degree are some of the results from this study. Another article on this topic can be found in Inside Higher Ed.
- John Ebersole sees the glass half full when it comes to higher education accountability. He acknowledges the various issues with the quality of instruction, communicating measurable outcomes, and financial aid, and also draws attention to the improvements being made in these areas.
- Eugene Kaufman needs to collect 385 opinions of adults who either educate, coach, or train adults in some organizational setting. The survey, which takes less than 8 minutes to complete, asks participants to compare teaching methods when it comes to training adults. Please take the time to give your opinion. Survey closes on April 1, 2015.
ACE released two papers at an event co-hosted with Blackboard earlier this week. The first paper focuses on credit for prior learning (CPL) and addresses the barriers and successful strategies for incorporating CPL. The second paper focuses on competency-based education (CBE) and highlights the challenges associated with developing a program that moves away from the credit-hour standard.
- A new report by the Penn GSE Center for MSIs can serve as a very complete resource for researchers hoping to study Minority-Serving Institutions. The report offers various suggestions on research topics, tips on how to formulate a research question, and things to keep in mind when considering research methods and where to publish the findings.
- The application deadline for the ACRL program "Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success" (AiA), has been extended to 5 p.m. Central, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. The third year of AiA gives participants the opportunity to explore how their library contributes to student success during this 14-month program.
- The Division of Student Affairs at the University of Illinois is seeking candidates for a full-time Assessment Coordinator position. Please follow the link for further details on position requirements and desired qualifications. The application deadline is March 10.
- Through support from the Lumina Foundation, CAEL is providing training for staff and faculty at 15-20 institutions (5-7 per year) to help them understand competency-based education (CBE) and decide whether to commit to building a program. CAEL is currently looking for 6-7 institutions to participate in the final cohort. They are seeking institutions in the earliest stages of investigating the benefits and challenges associated with CBE. Additional technical assistance will be provided to a subset of the institutions to begin the process of implementing CBE and assessment. The application deadline is March 20.
- Study abroad programs should be refocused towards promoting student learning and should expand to include more students without sacrificing quality. Elizabeth Redden states that the majority of students participate in short-term study abroad programs that affect the rest of their semester coursework. Instead, these programs should be a semester to a full academic year and student learning gains should be assessed.
- MBAE's new report states that the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test is no longer a good indicator for students' college readiness. Instead, the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) seems to be a better alternative, but has yet to be fully implemented. Similar to other states, Massachusetts will use both measures over the next two years to collect data and compare the two assessment tools.
Only 40% of professors use, or are interested in using, innovative teaching techniques/technology in the classroom; with only half of them actually implementing such innovations. The report goes on to note that flipped classrooms and free course content were among the most-adopted approaches.
Community Colleges in Pennsylvania are immersed in the state's Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) initiative. This allows the community colleges to issue credit for students' past educational, work, and life experiences. Another article on this topic which addresses some of the concerns over this program can be found here.
- High schools are receiving more freedom in the ways they evaluate students' college readiness. Eighteen states have aligned graduation requirements for high school students to meet college entrance criteria and 40 states now have policies in place to allow credit to be awarded for personal and work experience. In addition, portfolios, writing samples, and other assessment measures are being used to communicate student learning.
- This report from AAC&U focuses on how VALUE has helped change student learning outcomes assessment. "Author Daniel Sullivan tells us how VALUE relates to the larger aims of a high-quality liberal education, to the capabilities employers seek and reward, and to the public policy pressures of our current environment."
- Nancy Hoffman discusses the benefits of including work-based activities in the learning process, specifically to emphasize career readiness. She gives an example of a program which partners with employers and unions to meet the needs of students and the economy. The report concludes by analyzing barriers and opportunities for deeper learning.
The latest issue of Change (Volume 47, Issue 1) is now available. Articles in this issue include A Better Way to Evaluate Undergraduate Learning by Carl Wieman, an interview with Tim White, Chancellor of California State University system, by Adrianna Kezar, and Do Students Really Learn from Experience? by Susan Ambrose and Laurie Poklop.
- David Gooblar discusses the ways teachers can incorporate active learning strategies into the classroom while diminishing student resistance. Two of the recommendations are that teachers should be explicit about the course design and vary their teaching approaches so that all students are engaged.
- Lee S. Bessette provides a list of faculty development blogs. These can serve as a resource for insights into the profession, teaching tips, best practices, and other advice.
- Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University, wants to prove that students are learning and gaining skills at Purdue. Purdue has used the CLA+ tool to conduct assessment and faculty use various methods to evaluate student learning in the classroom, but assessing the gains students make involves various challenges and requires an appropriate study design.
- Adeline Koh writes about a class activity which worked to better engage and teach students by focusing on "doing" rather than letting students be passive listeners. This activity also helped teach students how to navigate group dynamics, utilize various types of resources, and communication skills.
AAC&U sponsored a meeting Supporting Student Learning Through Holistic Faculty Evaluation. Colleges and universities introduced various assessment methods, such as Russell Sage College's new assessment tool that focuses its evaluations on the student's role in active learning.
From scholars at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education presents a reframed conception and approach to student learning outcomes assessment. The authors explain why it is counterproductive to view collecting and using evidence of student accomplishment as primarily a compliance activity, and offers both a compelling rationale and practical advice for making student learning outcomes assessment more effective and efficient.
- The Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), which is funded by Lumina Foundation and allows participants to share information on their experiences with competency-based programs, has added 15 new members- 13 institutions and 2 public university systems. Among them are the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Purdue University at West Lafayette, and the University of Texas system.
ACRL compiled the findings from the first year of Assessment in Action into a report noting promising and effective approaches that demonstrate the library's value to students' academic success. Among the findings were outcomes in student retention, persistence, GPA, and engagement.
- Tyton Partners, formerly known as Education Growth Advisors, has issued a new report outlining their "evidence of learning framework". One of the goals of this framework is to help university leaders identify areas of friction and opportunities for student advancement through higher education and into the employment sector.
Paul Fain discusses the results of the Carnegie Unit, a report from the Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching, which considers an alternative way to measure student learning. The Carnegie Unit is based on competencies rather than the credit-hour system, and could improve learning in both high school and post-secondary education. An additional viewpoint on the Carnegie Unit can be found here.
- Colleen Flaherty talks about AAC&U's Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative and its outcomes, specifically integrative learning. While it can be difficult for institutions and faculty to develop curricula around integrative learning, the goal is to provide knowledge and skills that students will need to adapt to new settings and solve complex problems.
- Santa Fe College, Amherst College, and Purdue University have won the 2015 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award recognizing the staff of an institution's library for programs delivering exemplary services and resources which promote their institution's mission. The ALA press release also provides additional information on the libraries and selection criteria.
A new study done by Hart Research Associates reveals that new college graduates often over-estimate their preparation for the work-force compared to the views of their employers. In addition, the study reveals key findings on the type of learning/skills acquisition that employers prefer and the areas they prioritize when evaluating new hires. Articles on this report can also be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.
- The Kettering Foundation, the National Issues Forum Institute, and Augsburg College created a forum to discuss how colleges should adapt to a post-recession world constantly changing due to technology and globalization. The key takeaway came from Byron P. White, vice president for university engagement and chief diversity officer at Cleveland State University, who said universities need to provide "skills-oriented learning infused with the liberal arts, with a heavy dose of real-world experience."
Data released by the Humanities Indicator Project reveal that more community college students are graduating with liberal arts degrees. In addition, more students are enrolling in humanities courses which equip them with an intellectual framework that allows students to compare and contrast different viewpoints and to attain critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance released Those Who Can, Teach; Evaluating Teaching and Learning Strategies in Ontario’s Universities, which offers nineteen recommendations to provincial governments and universities to improve the quality of teaching and education. The report calls for more teaching-focused faculty, support for various assessment and evaluation methods, and more tenured faculty.
Robert Talbert shares how specifications grading has worked in his computer science course, as well as how the assessment was carried out. A couple of takeaways were that students had to put forth their best effort and become engaged, and students were given the reigns over their grades by knowing exactly what requirements were needed to attain a certain letter grade. Another article on can be found here.
- This report from the Council for Aid to Education summarizes the performance of the 169 institutions who used the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) during the 2013-14 academic year. Overall, colleges and universities greatly contribute to student development in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving, and communication, but there is variation in these skills at the institutional level (derived from CLA+ scores).
- Design thinking turns the focus towards the users of a product/service and their needs in order to come up with solutions to real-world problems. Holly Morris and Greg Warman provide an overview on the various principles of design thinking, and how it has and can be used in higher education.
"Research about how students learn shows that teaching strategies that motivate and engage students will improve their learning. So how do students best learn science and engineering? Which teaching strategies are most effective in developing their knowledge and skills? And how can practitioners apply these strategies to their own courses or suggest new approaches within their departments or institutions? Reaching Students strives to answer these questions."
- The latest issue of the Toolbox (Volume 13, Issue 3) is now available. The focus is on "Reflective Practice and Teaching", and how to integrate it into everyday practice.
A 2012 study finds that the U.S. population is falling behind on literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving compared to other developed countries, and the effects of this lag are particularly observable among minority and immigrant populations. The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) has launched a new website to communicate the results of that study and provide resources to raise awareness.
- Jamie Merisotis, President of Lumina Foundation, calls attention to the fact that the American higher education system needs to change to meet the needs of the changing college student demographics. He offers three recommendations for change, including measuring student learning instead of classroom time and maximizing the impact of financial aid.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a downloadable booklet on flipped classrooms, which is a compilation of past articles on the topic. The guide serves as a quick reference to learn about flipped classrooms and the rationale/methods.
- There is a lack of consensus on how to best measure learning outcomes. HEQCO has formed a consortium of six institutions, called the Learning Outcomes Assessment Consortium (LOAC), to explore ways to resolve this issue, develop assessment tools/ techniques, and disseminate findings to other colleges and universities.
The Government Accountability Office reports that student outcomes are not heavily weighed when accreditors gauge academic quality at colleges and universities. Accreditors stated that there is a lack of "quantifiable indicators" that allow learning outcomes to be used when measuring academic quality. The original report can be found here.
- Mildred Garcia, President of California State University at Fullerton, believes that the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) can help narrow the achievement gap. The DQP can serve as a roadmap for students allowing them to clearly see what is expected of them, realize the skills they have acquired, and communicate to employers what they are able to do.
Scholars from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) are pleased to announce the release of a book, Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education, which looks across the landscape of higher education assessment to present a reframing of how we conceptualize and approach the assessment of student learning. Two of the authors, Natasha Jankowski and Jillian Kinzie, will present points from select chapters of the book focusing on fostering greater use of assessment results and organizing assessment to yield meaningful results. Please join us on January 29 from 1:00-2:00pm CST.
- The authors argue that higher education must do a better job at assessing and improving learning, and AAC&U's VALUE approach can be an essential tool. VALUE utilizes rubrics, developed by faculty members, to measure student learning. The VALUE rubrics are regarded as a "high-impact practice" and could reduce the achievement gap in higher education.
- The University of Pennsylvania has introduced a new course, "Case Studies in Higher Education Administration", which features current issues affecting colleges and universities. Professor Shaun Harper requested case studies from various college and university administrators with the aim of both equipping students with problem-solving skills before they work in higher education and to offer administrators solutions to the challenges they are facing.
- Quantitative literacy has been incrementally regarded as a necessary requirement for college graduates, and the DQP and LEAP have included measurements for this, as well. Fitchburg State University (FSU) and Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) worked together to evaluate their rubrics of quantitative reasoning- and three other areas- and compare it with the DQP's and LEAP's. The aim is to develop common rubrics to measure what students know and should do, which in turn should work towards setting common expectations for transfer students.
- The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is seeking applications for teams from all types of higher education institutions to participate in the third year of the ACRL program "Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success" (AiA). The 14-month program examines the impact of the library on student success and contributes to assessment activities on campus.
- James Lang writes about his interview with Michelle Miller, Co-Director of Northern Arizona University's first-year learning program, and her new book, Minds Online: Teaching Effectively With Technology. The various ways that technology can help in pedagogy and learning to increase student motivation and engagement, as well as issues with online programs, are discussed.
- Ball State University has developed two new high-tech classrooms centered on the concept of active learning. By incorporating both technology and changes in pedagogy to enable more in-class collaboration and discussion, as opposed to a lecture-style approach, student engagement is on the rise.
- Dan Barrett highlights efforts by Harvard University and the University of Michigan, which have devoted $40 and $25 million, respectively, to faculty members to experiment with and improve learning. However, while money sends an effective message on the importance of learning, it is not enough if the motivation, time, and infrastructure for innovation are missing.
- Available Faculty Position in Assessment and Measurement at James Madison University
The full-time position at the Center for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS) and the Department of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University seeks someone to contribute to campus assessment activities and the Assessment and Measurement PhD program. Candidates can apply and find more details here using the post number 0406394.
York University's new Teaching and Learning website features various resources on key higher education initiatives and examples of how York has worked to create an enhanced learning environment that promotes student growth.
- Fundamental beliefs about assessment must change in order for assessment to be effectively and efficiently conducted. A part of this change has to do with assessment instruments, such as rubrics, which are often misused to measure and communicate superficial aspects of student learning. Instead, instruments must be used to explicitly state what the instructor values and expects students to learn; which in the end will be the basis for a final grade.
- Robert Talbert interviews Linda Nilson on her new book "Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time", which intends to address some of the issues affecting higher education, such as the disconnect between course grading and intended learning outcomes, making use of feedback, and various grading-related stressors. The interview addresses some of the main ideas and concerns of specifications grading.
The U.S. Department of Education introduced new guidelines for states to evaluate teacher training programs calling for increased attention on graduates' job placement and how much graduates' future students learn. The end goal is to better prepare educators for the classroom and meet learning outcomes, but Kelly Field notes several challenges facing these regulations.
- The inflow of international students to American colleges and universities has become more prominent over recent years, especially at the undergraduate level. While there are various benefits (e.g. preparing students for a more globalized world and including various perspectives into course discussions) there are also many challenges that face pedagogy, policy making, educational quality standards, and curriculum development.
- David Gooblar offers various ways to assess student learning and use the information to tailor teaching methods, be responsive to student needs, and provide students an opportunity to actively evaluate their own learning. Methods such as brief class discussions, handing out surveys in-class or electronically, integrating the "one-minute paper" at the end of class, and using homework assignments to guide the next class meeting are effective ways to know what students know and what/how they are learning.
The National Survey of Student Engagement's (NSSE) latest findings suggest that student experiences in higher education are extremely variable, and an institution's selectivity and size does not correlate with student engagement nor experiences with faculty. This means that less selective institutions often offer experiences that are comparable to those available at highly selective colleges and universities. Results from a study conducted at Purdue University are also discussed. Another article on selectivity and student achievement can be found in the Chronicle.
- This study by the OECD examines tertiary vocational education and training, and addresses the challenges that arise from the increasing demand for a workforce that possesses technical and professional skills. Key takeaways and recommendations focus on institutional and financial barriers, the importance of maintaining quality and flexibility to meet market demands, the role of competency- based approaches, and core elements of effective vocational systems.
- Without proper assessment practices and procedures in place, it is difficult to evaluate what a degree/certificate from colleges and universities in the UK really means. Chris Rust states that it may not be in the best interest of the institutions nor the government to produce data measuring the worth of their credentials, but transparency is important for students, businesses, the economy, and other institutions.
- David Goobar calls attention to the importance of determining what students know, as well as what they do not know, to improve the teaching and learning processes. In order to truly teach and engage students, it is beneficial to engage them in conversations and class discussions, to uncover how they learn best, and to reflect on how group dynamics in the classroom may affect learning.
- Christopher Nelson, President of St. John's College at Annapolis, states that assessment models have a tendency to underestimate the responsibility of the student and overestimate the responsibility of the teacher when evaluating learning outcomes. Instead of developing assessments that measure the students' learning environment and outcomes, focus should be given to assessing students' self-transformation and freedom (e.g. his/her desire to learn and seize educational opportunities).
- Brandman University has implemented an accredited competency-based bachelor's in business administration program by using both the Lumina Foundation's Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) and Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) from AAC&U. Paul Fain discusses the process that Brandman went through, and various aspects of the competency-based education (CBE) program.
- Fourteen community colleges in Texas are participating in Student Success By the Numbers (SSBTN), which is an initiative aimed at supporting college efforts to increase the use of data as a driver for student success. SSBTN provides colleges with coaching, resources, technical support, and professional development opportunities.
- Brown University's BrownConnect program helps undergraduate students from low-income backgrounds attain internships, research opportunities, and funding. The goal is to help students who cannot afford to take unpaid internships be successful and gain experience that will increase their employability. Similar programs are also in place at Duke University and Cornell University.
- Colleen Flaherty discusses some of the main findings from the Undergraduate Teaching Faculty survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. Takeaways include that faculty are moving towards a more student-centered from of pedagogy and are increasing the use of technology to deliver education.
- The internet resources for higher education outcomes assessment that was previously hosted by North Carolina State University has moved; it is now Assessment Commons.
- Blueprints for Student Success is a website driven by the Supporting Student Success project, which found that new college students have trouble navigating the institution's programs and services. The website aims to fill-in the gaps and raise student awareness of the resources available to them.
A NILOA webinar hosted by Pat Hutchings, Natasha Jankowski, and Peter Ewell will be held on December 17, 2014. The webinar will focus on NILOA's Assignment Library initiative and its relevance and utility for faculty. Please follow the link to register.
- The Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE) has a new and improved website. It features a relevant news feed, resource room, a Member's Center, and more.
- NILOA's third assignment charrette will be held March 9, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado. Applications are due by January 12, 2015. The charrette is intended for faculty members who are designing and using assignments linked to proficiencies set forth in the DQP. We are especially eager to focus on assignments that address the DQP proficiencies of civic and global learning, as well as assignments from those who work at minority-serving institutions or who teach diverse student populations.
A summary of the authors' report, "The Differential Effects of Internship Participation on End-of-Fourth-Year-GPA by Demographic and Institutional Characteristics," is offered by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The main takeaway is that students with the lowest GPA at the end of their first year had the highest GPA increases by the end of their fourth year as an apparent result of internship involvement. Additional articles on the value of internships for both students and employers can be found here, here, here, and here.
According to a report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), work-integrated learning (WIL) (e.g. internships and field placements) helps college students clarify career interests and attain jobs relevant to their education. A synopsis of the findings is offered, including annual income differences for WIL students and gain variability for students in different academic programs.
- Ross Markle and Terry O'Banion discuss affective measures and provide examples on how improving student placement can have positive effects on retention and completion rates.
- However one defines these programs, at its core Competency-Based Education (CBE) aims to offer a clear representation of students' capabilities and dispositions, which is something that traditional seat-time learning cannot effectively do. By utilizing the University of Michigan's CBE program as an example, Michelle Wiese sheds light on mastery-based learning and CBE.
- Workplace assessments like AMCAT and ACT's WorkKeys can help employers identify highly skilled hires, as well as help current employees identify areas which can be improved upon. In addition, ACT's National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), awards employees one of three possible levels of readiness certificates, and more than 2.6 million of these credentials have been awarded so far.
- Diana Cobbe created an app to help students identify/communicate acquired skills and connect potential hires with employers. The use of mobile devices is increasingly popular with students, and services like these help engage students and better prepare them for the job search.
- The latest issue of the Toolbox (Volume 13, Issue 2) is now available. Articles featured in this issue focus around an aggregated approach to course development.
- While Canada is the world leader in post-secondary attainment (53% of the population has a college degree/credential), there are still identifiable deficits in the employability of graduates primarily due to a lack of skills attainment. More than 70% of employers indicate there is a gap in hires' critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, as well as significant deficits in communication and teamwork skills.
- Rob Jenkins shares a couple of questions/examples of writing misconceptions students develop in high school, and have to be untaught in college. This misalignment of expectations results in devoting class time towards "unteaching" constructs instead of building upon students' learned skills.
- Brian Fleming reports the main points from the 20th Annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference. An interesting finding is that more than one third of adult learners want a competency-based component in their degree programs. Additional takeaways include that institutions are willing to share their implementation strategies for competency-based programs, new learning management systems are needed to meet the needs of non-traditional learners and CBE programs, and special attention needs to be given to quality measured for new programs.
The University of Texas system will implement a competency-based education (CBE) program in 2015 which will focus on delivering content to students on their phones and mobile devices. Courses and material will still be available on the web, but the aim is to be able to reach students wherever they go in a way that is familiar to them. Another article about the U. of Texas system and CBE is available in Inside Higher Ed.
- The authors note that open educational resources (OER) are not widely adopted in higher education. The study finds that faculty perception of OER, the effort required to find relevant OER materials, and overall awareness are the key barriers for wider implementation. However, faculty members who are familiar with OER think the quality is comparable to that of traditional educational resources. The report also mentions the use of OER and future outlook.
- Deeply and routinely analyzing education data can allow decision-makers to identify the reason why certain trends are happening. Five tips are offered which aim to help in this process (e.g. engage faculty members throughout the process, promptly make use of the data, and interview students as part of the process).
The latest issue of Liberal Education focuses on the leadership role that faculty members can take to promote curricular change. Other articles discuss student course evaluations and how they can be tailored to meet the needs of both faculty and their departments, as well as recommitting higher education towards meeting student's twenty-first century needs by adopting a developmental model to guide educational practices.
Augustana College identified nine learning outcomes that apply to student experiences in and out of the classroom. While some are concerned that specifying learning goals for out-of-class experiences might interfere with the social aspects of college, others believe that specifically acknowledging learning that occurs outside of the classroom can help students be more mindful of these potentially rich educational opportunities.
Jeffrey Johnson reflects on issues that occur when it is time to conduct assessment, as well as administrators' and faculty members' feelings towards each other and the assessment process. The reality is that assessment professionals and faculty members are equals, as opposed to enemies, and must treat each other correspondingly in order for assessment to improve student learning.
- Three Big Ten institutions now have Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs. This article describes the programs at the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin system, and Purdue University, as well as their focus/goals, examples of competency measures, and challenges.
- The author, Sylvia Manning-- former Higher Learning Commission president-- writes that accreditation can be a barrier to approval for new institutions, and suggests introducing a provisional status that allows new institutions to offer students federal financial aid while it is in process to receive accreditation.
- The study finds that programs that incorporate community service learning strongly engage students and improve learning outcomes, but requires commitment from students, instructors, and administrators. The skills students learn are applicable to their future careers, and the experience was described by students as deeply rewarding.
Western Governors University (WGU)'s new website serves as a discussion space for its recent collaboration with ten community colleges focused on creating Competency-Based associate degree programs. The new website, CBEInfo, provides information on the development process for these direct assessment programs, and also encourages feedback / contribution from other faculty members and decision-makers.
- While focused at various K-12 audiences (e.g. parents, school boards, and policymakers), the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) provides a series of reports with recommendations relevant for higher education on how to provide, find, and make use of education data to improve student learning outcomes.
- Student evaluation of teaching takes numerous forms, some providing more meaningful information to improve teaching and learning than others. The Academia Group is working on developing an evaluation centered on five dimensions: organization and clarity, expertise and enthusiasm, rapport, group interaction, and assessment and grading that may be applied across institutions/departments to measure core aspects of teaching.
- Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) helps adult learners, typically thought of as students 25 and older, take advantage of prior experience to meet college credit. A study of 48 higher education institutions utilizing PLA indicated that PLA students had better graduation and degree attainment rates than non-PLA students.
- This study set out to evaluate whether competition affected student achievement, engagement, and peer interaction in large college classes. The key findings yielded no effect, and the learning environment was neutral even when various types of competition were introduced. The study recommends that it be utilized as a launching point for future research, and holds that there are effects which need to be observed.
- This policy report from the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides recommendations for quality assurance in courses, certificates/badge programs, and/or modules offered by non-institutional providers of higher education.
- The College of New Jersey updated its liberal arts curriculum to be more data-driven and comprised of high-impact teaching practices, as well as reducing the number of courses faculty teach per semester from 4 to 3 in order to aid in their research endeavors. This made the courses more rigorous and increased student engagement, primarily through immersing them in undergraduate research. This model has helped with student attainment, retention, and recruiting.
- This interview with Emily Craig, director of e-learning and instructional technology at the College of New Rochelle in New York, and Maya Georgieva, associate director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at New York University's Stern College of Business, touches upon the ways technology is a tool for students and faculty, how it can be integrated into higher education settings, and some of the challenges and obstacles.
- David Gooblar provides a list of various online resources that can benefit pedagogy. Featuring various tips and resources for teachers/instructors, these websites can help develop ideas on how to improve upon ways to engage students and supplement learning.
- This survey of core requirements at America's colleges and universities examines the general education curriculum in order to uncover what courses institutions require students to take. Some of the study's expectations revolve around the areas of expository writing, an intermediate-level understanding of a foreign language, economics, mathematics, and natural science among others.
Assessment Essentials provides a step-by-step approach to the full process of developing an assessment program and implementing it. The book includes over 100 examples from various college and university campuses to help drive home main points. New topics covered in this edition include: using electronic portfolios in assessment, rubrics and course-embedded assessment, assessment in student affairs, and assessing institutional effectiveness.
- The latest issue Of Research and Practice in Assessment (Volume 9, Winter 2014) is now available. Articles in this issue address the question "What is the role of big data and learning analytics in higher education assessment?"
- Linda Suskie provides a model for institutions to follow to earn and maintain their accreditation, and to both improve the overall level of institutional quality and demonstrate it to stakeholders. The book aims to equip readers with the skills to identify ways to improve institutional quality, demonstrate the quality of education to all constituents, and to streamline the process institutions go through to comply with accreditation requirements.
- The linked learning approach occurs during high school and it combines general education, or core academic content, with both technical education and real-world application with the goal of equipping students with skills that will promote success at the post-secondary level. This report discusses why a linked learning approach is important, various implementation methods, and policy recommendations, as well as introducing a case study of a high school which utilized linked learning to improve student learning outcomes.
- Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs replace letter grades and instead use students' demonstration of skills mastery and application to measure competencies. The aim is to equip students with skills that can be directly applied in a work environment. However, the question of how to properly assess these programs so that the credential or degree earned holds value is salient.
- Lederman states that when the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) was first introduced four years ago there was fear it would be used as a way to standardize college education, but that has not been the case. Instead, the DQP promotes meaningful conversations among faculty and academic leaders on the curriculum, classroom activities, and what students should be and are learning. As George Kuh stated, the DQP provides faculty and staff a common language and framework to identify what quality student learning is. Lederman also provides a description of what the DQP is how it has been utilized.
- Cornell University plans to spend $150 million over the next ten years to develop Engaged Cornell, a program that aims to engage students, faculty, and staff with the community. As a part of the program, Cornell students will need to take at least one course with a community component, and they will be involved with the community through participation with Cornell's community partners, research endeavors, or formal coursework.
- The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP), developed to identify what a college degree means and what graduates should be expected to know, are meant to apply to all students independent of their academic major and backgrounds. Higher education professionals say it must be localized and continue to give institutions the choice to take ownership of the process.
- Clifton Conrad expresses his belief, which stems from a three-year study analyzing student success at Minority-Serving Institutions, that higher education, as a whole, can learn a lot about creating equal education opportunities for all students from MSI's. The article urges a shift from the one-size-fits-all approach to education into a more individualized focus, and provides examples from various institutions on other shifts that should take place.
- This article explores the concept of "deeper learning," which combines academic knowledge/skills with communication, collaboration, learning management skills. The aim of this is to truly prepare students for college and their careers. Schools that embrace this concept make use of project-based learning, advisory classes, and long-term cumulative assessment, among other endeavors, to prepare their students.
This is the opening keynote speech of Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation, at the DQP launch event on October 8th. Among many salient points, Jamie Merisotis makes note that the DQP and Tuning are not ends in themselves, but rather are a means to an end of having an education system which delivers high-quality education that serves the entire student population and helps reverse the trend of income and social inequality in the country. In addition, video of the DQP launch can be found here.
- Competency-based education programs forego the utilization of time, or a credit-hour system, to measure capabilities, and instead look to directly measure learning by analyzing what the students know and are able to do. It is estimated that 350 institutions currently offer CBE degrees, and the number will continue to rise. The concern is that these programs will expand to become diploma mills, but frameworks like the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) can help mitigate this issue by helping faculty and staff understand the required competencies for the various degree types.
- Utah State University, along with all other universities in Utah, are involved in the Tuning process where they collaboratively work to develop learning outcomes for degrees in the physics, elementary education, and history fields. The process has led to discussions on what skills the courses teach versus which are needed by the student, to the creation of rubrics to evaluate course syllabi, and to the realization that each department is both a producer and a consumer of general education.
- The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) is a learning-centered framework for what college graduates should know and be able to do to earn the associate, bachelor's or master's degree. The DQP's learning outcomes will engage faculty members in the course/program improvement process, clarify and help realize educational pathways for students, and help streamline the accreditation process.
- This report analyzes student and faculty perspectives on learning management systems (LMS) (e.g. Blackboard) in the milieu of current institutional investments. The report measures faculty and student satisfaction with LMS, degree of engagement through LMS, utilization of the technology, and recommendations for improvement.
- The $450 million grant aims to help approximately 270 community colleges and other higher education institutions offer better job training for students. In addition, it will motivate the formation of partnerships with businesses in the IT, healthcare, energy, and manufacturing industries.
After the early hype surrounding MOOCs, it is now time to think critically about the position of MOOCs in the academic environment. Selingo raises three salient questions to guide the conversation: (1) What role should MOOCs play at traditional colleges and universities?; (2) How do colleges make open online courses actually open?; and (3) How can the quality and success of MOOCs be measured? Another article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses additional challenges facing MOOCs.
- The latest issue of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (Volume 46, Issue 5) is now available. Articles in this issue include Christine M. Keller's "Lessons from the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA)," Marybeth Gasman & Heather Collins' "The Historically Black College and University Community and the Obama Administration: A Lesson in Communication," and Analia Albuja & Steven A. Greenlaw's "Distance-Mentored Undergraduate Research."
- This report outlines the core elements of CBE programs (i.e. mastery, pacing, and instruction), offers a timeline on the CBE movement, and provides a guide for the movement (implications for student learning and motivation, the role of assessment, consideration for the challenges facing CBE, and important aspects to consider for successful implementation).
- In an attempt to make online courses more engaging and to humanize the online experience for both students and instructors, Learning Glass -an LED-lit glass board which can be written on and used to display videos- was created. Two benefits are that lecturers no longer have to turn their back to students as they teach, which increases eye contact and the personalized feel of education, and they no longer have to solely rely on power point slides for online courses.
- Apprenticeships, which combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training, are regarded as a promising way to meet employers' demand for a skilled workforce. This report highlights various apprenticeship programs, and discusses some of the outcomes resulting from apprenticeships and a few key lessons to consider when developing these types of programs.
The Lumina Foundation is hosting a launch event on October 8th for the new DQP framework for defining the high-quality learning that college degrees should signify. The DQP outlines clearly defined learning outcomes that reflect a quality postsecondary education for associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Don’t forget to register, and join the live webcast from 7:45am to 2:00pm CST.
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania has implemented a customized math learning experience for students with the use of adaptive computer software. This software tailors the learning experience for each student based on his/her grasp of course concepts. This allows students to progress through the course at their own pace, and has demonstrated that students acquire a greater mastery of skills in less time.
- Government-developed scoring systems which attempt to compare institutional effectiveness by setting minimal standards for all colleges and universities may be detrimental. Wheelan and Elgart argue that accountability measures should be left in the hands of accreditors, which utilize a comprehensive review-process and allow room for institutional differences when developing quality standards
- The five year grant will fund UCO’s Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) program which tracks, assesses, and provides information that can help students develop the skills which employers demand. Often called 21st century skills, characteristics such as critical thinking, problem solving, the ability to work in teams, and actively interacting in an increasingly global workplace are essential for student success in the workplace and as citizens.
- Argosy University System has implemented a competency-based education (CBE) approach to its newly accredited MBA program, making it the first WASC-accredited MBA in the region that follows a competency model. This interview with Argosy University System’s vice chancellor for academic affairs touches on the process for developing competency-based programs, potential benefits for students, the importance of technology, and the future outlook of CBE.
This CCCSE report outlines thirteen high-impact practices that community colleges should actively employ and integrate into academic and career pathways for students. In order to sustain their recommendations, the report offers an analysis on how some of these high-impact practices affect student outcomes and retention rates. In addition, you can read two articles that speak about the CCCSE report here: Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Sometimes, the connection between learning and work is not easily identified, but programs like Iowa GROW draw on learning theories to relate knowledge to work experiences through raising students’ awareness about the transferable skills they gain. GROW students are more likely to report an increase in writing, speaking, and time-management skills, and an increased ability to create meaningful interactions with people from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Due to the high volume of students in MOOCs, having open-ended response questions in exams or assigning essays which engage students with the material can be problematic. However, automated-grading software has proven to be a viable option to address this issue, and provide instructors with the ability to assign work which promotes critical thinking and improves learning gains. For another article on MOOCs and student learning gains please click here.
- This article calls for a renewed focus on student-centered pedagogy requiring that student learning be placed at the center of faculty efforts. Faculty cross-collaboration in the syllabi creation process and engaging in conversations about teaching with one another could produce aligned learning outcomes, and emphasize the quality of learning at the course-level.
- This article speaks about Rochester Institute of Technology’s Chair in Applied Critical Thinking, the ways institutions can increase students’ critical thinking abilities, and the value employers place on this skill. In order to prepare students to become global citizens, institutions must focus on teaching critical thinking skills, and academic programs should promote such skills through ongoing assessment and course requirements (e.g. senior "capstone" projects and portfolio assignments).
- Find out what's new with NILOA in addition to recent news items about learning outcomes assessment in this month's newsletter.
- Weingarten asks whether Ontario colleges and universities are measuring what matters in terms of student learning outcomes. While there is considerable consensus on the knowledge and skills students should acquire, there are not enough outcomes assessment programs in place to verify that students are indeed equipped with the necessary critical thinking and problem-solving skills that employers require.
- The authors of ‘Academically Adrift’ speak about their follow-up book ‘Aspiring Adults Adrift,’ and shed light on the current status of student development in higher education; and the correlation with student transition into adulthood.
- David Gooblar writes about the ways in which student learning can be enhanced by making the learning process more challenging, and offers three methods. One is based on a study which found that students who took notes by hand, instead of utilizing a laptop, had to think critically about which notes to write leading to long-term retention of information.
- Acquiring accreditation has been an issue for many institutions hoping to implement competency-based programs. This article helps shed light on accreditors’ actions and institutions’ attempts to both gain accreditation and ensure student success.
- The latest issue of the Toolbox (Volume 13, Number 1) is now available. Articles featured in this issue focus around utilizing the assessment process to not only calculate students’ grades, but to enhance the learning process.
PBS News Hour presented a video on competency-based education and the way it was implemented for an online course. For another article by PBS News Hour on CBE please click here.
This article recognizes the success of colleges and universities in Indiana in establishing competency-based programs, and makes a case for a wider implementation in other higher education institutions in Indiana. Correspondingly, Purdue University is set to create a cross-disciplinary competency-based bachelor’s degree (as reported on Inside Higher Ed).
- In this interview, Pamela Tate, president and CEO of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, addresses the topics of competency-based education (CBE) and prior learning assessment (PLA). Tate gives her take on how these concepts impact student completion rates, and what it may take in order for CBE to be widely implemented.
- Arum and Roska call for educators to take charge of curriculum and learning decisions, and to approach learning assessment in the classroom with the goal of better equipping students with 21st-century skills to aid them in their transition to adulthood.
- Recruiters could benefit from utilizing technology (i.e. analytics) to uncover possible relationships between employees’ educational credentials and their performance in the workplace; especially in a globalized economy to help uncover what it means to hold a degree
- Institutions are beginning to lay the groundwork for direct competency-based education and direct assessment programs in higher education. These measures aim to move higher education from the credit hour standards towards a more personalized approach.
- Slippery Rock University’s “SCALE-UP” collaborative learning classroom is integrating technology by rethinking the traditional lecture-style of education, and creating a more interactive learning experience for both students and professors.
- Professors and instructors of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) may now be able to design courses which adapt to the specific needs of students. Through offering instant feedback loops and giving instructors more creative control, the goal is for MOOCs to take a step closer to mimicking a classroom experience.
Mark Carnes discusses role-immersion games, an alternative to lecture-style teaching, and its effects on student engagement. This method intends to aid learning through a mixture of course materials/readings, friendly competition, and play. More information on this concept and style of teaching may also be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article ‘How Students Learn from Games.'
- In order to reduce the need for remedial coursework, several community colleges are undertaking the task of empowering high school students earlier with the necessary tools. Endeavors such as accelerated learning programs and enrolling high school seniors in remedial coursework before they enter college are just some of the efforts being made to encourage academic success.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for July 2014 is now available. Articles in this issue include Anja Mueller, Mike Carson, and James Therrell’s “How a Research Faculty Becomes Interested in Assessment,” Thomas Zane’s “A Pedagogical Approach to Assessment,” and Arend Flick’s “Can Assessment Loops Be Closed?”
- A new book titled Mentoring At-Risk Students through the Hidden Curriculum of Education offers recommendations for colleges to help at-risk students navigate through higher education’s hidden curriculum. The author suggests that mentoring programs need well-defined objectives that can be measured in order to be successful.
- Find out what's new with NILOA in addition to recent news items about learning outcomes assessment in this month's newsletter.
- A professor at Baylor University created an introductory sociology course page on Facebook and found that students who participated in the group online were more engaged in the class and received better grades than students who did not participate.
ACE and Pearson are co-sponsoring a webinar on August 20, hosted by Inside Higher Ed. The webinar will examine how credit for prior learning can be a strategy for accelerating degree completion. To register for the webinar, click here.
- Please consider participating in the Assessment Professional 2014 Survey. This research endeavor intends to establish a broad demographic profile of the assessment professional in higher education. The survey is being administered nationwide by Bridgewater State University and Framingham State University and takes approximately 8-10 minutes to complete.
- The New America Education Foundation released a policy brief titled The Case against Exit Exams. The report explains that high school exit exams have forced states to choose between enforcing higher academic standards and making higher education an option for as many students as possible, and new policies are needed to pursue college and career attainment for more students.
Flexible classrooms that are designed for active learning may improve student engagement. Students in flexible learning environments report being more engaged and focused on classroom activities than in a traditional classroom.
The latest issue of the Toolbox (Volume 12, Number 6) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on creating screencasts, which are videos that instructors can produce to deliver course content to students outside of the classroom.
The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) at the University of Michigan has an opening for a postdoctoral research associate with a focus on assessment and evaluation. The successful candidate will work closely with CRLT's Director of Assessment and the Assistant Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education to evaluate and report on the Provost's Third Century Student Learning Initiative, which supports active and engaged learning. Please read more here.
- Paul Gaston, co-author of the DQP, provides a summary of major points from his recent book Higher Education Accreditation: How It’s Changing, Why It Must in the latest issue of AAC&U’s Liberal Education.
- The latest issue of AAC&U’s Liberal Education features an excerpt from the DQP 2.0. The second edition of the DQP includes new proficiencies regarding ethical reasoning and global learning, strengthened statements on quantitative reasoning and more attention to research.
- Colleges Must Help Further the Goals of Common Core Standards, Report Says
Articles in The Chronicle and The Hechinger Report discuss the latest policy brief from the New America Foundation on the Common Core State Standards. The New America report states that higher education institutions have not aligned college instruction or teacher preparation programs with the Common Core and should adjust admissions, financial-aid, and remedial-education policies to connect with the standards.
- Dominican University of California Seeks a Director of Assessment
The Director of Assessment is responsible for leading and developing a comprehensive institutional assessment plan to support the University’s mission and strategic initiatives. The Director will design, implement, and monitor assessment processes for assessing student learning outcomes for degree programs and general education. Please read more here.
- Michigan State University conducted a study that found when students multi-task in class on non-academic activities, test scores go down. The authors hope to understand how two different regions of the brain work together to process both important and irrelevant information and how to keep students more focused and less distracted.
- Hampshire College in Massachusetts recently decided to enforce a test-blind policy, which means that it will reject any test scores received. The dean of admissions at Hampshire states that test scores were a poor predictor of success and rejecting test scores will allow the admissions office to focus on more meaningful areas of college applications.
- A study from the School of Dentistry at the University of Louisville found that classroom seating in a collaborative learning environment could have important effects on academic achievement. The authors suggest that a formalized, in-class peer mentoring system may help to ensure the success of all students in an active learning classroom.
- Ten liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania received funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a consortium to deal with the challenges that many liberal arts colleges now face. The consortium members will collaborate on enhancing the quality of academic programs while controlling associated costs.
- A study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario found that giving students options for how they will be evaluated in courses can improve academic achievement. Findings from the study suggested that students welcomed an opportunity to be assessed in a way that allowed them to demonstrate what they have learned, instead of choosing the correct answers on an exam.
A new report from the Education Commission of the States (ECS) found there is little consistency in how states track students’ college preparedness and progress through remedial coursework. The ECS developed a framework for remedial reporting that focuses on academic progress and student outcomes.
- The latest issue of Research and Practice in Assessment (Volume 9, Summer) is now available. Articles in this issue include Jessica L. Jonson, Tim Guetterman, and Robert Thompson, Jr.'s "An Integrated Model of Influence: Use of Assessment Data in Higher Education," Sarah MacDonald, Laura Williams, Rory Lazowski, S. Jeanne Horst and Kenneth Barron's "Faculty Attitudes toward General Education Assessment: A Qualitative Study about Their Motivation," and Jennifer Danley-Scott and Gray Scott's "The Other Half: Non-Tenure Track Faculty Thoughts on Student Learning Outcomes Assessment."
- Find out what's new with NILOA in addition to recent news items about learning outcomes assessment in this month's newsletter.
- A study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario examines if e-portfolios, which require students to track and showcase skills developed in courses, could help improve students’ ability to articulate skills learned to potential employers.
- The Educational Testing Service (ETS) designed an online assessment, SuccessNavigator, to measure non-cognitive attributes that can predict success in college. Academic advisers receive a copy of the report and can give students feedback about their results and develop plans for succeeding in college.
Nearly 70 institutions in nine states are participating in the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC). AAC&U announced the MSC will be part of the ongoing VALUE initiative to document how well students are achieving key learning outcomes by assessing student work using a set of common rubrics.
NILOA is accepting applications for a Visiting Project Manager Position to assist with the tracking and mapping of institutional use of frameworks for enhancing student learning. To learn more about the position, visit the job description.
- Clark University is redefining liberal education by combining it with practical and applied education through enhancing the capability of students to put knowledge to work. Placing students in real-problem solving situations allows them to build and demonstrate the skills needed in the workplace while still in college.
- Four ideas on reimagining the undergraduate college experience emerged from a yearlong exercise at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. The ideas have brought together faculty and administrators from across campus to generate discussions.
- The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is seeking feedback on a revised draft of the association’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The ACRL Board of Directors appointed a task force to significantly revise the framework in order to address the changing information climate and information needs of students. The draft is available for review with feedback due July 15.
- The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario documented results of a Tuning initiative to identify common learning outcomes for certain degrees. The report, Tuning: Identifying and Measuring Sector-Based Learning Outcomes in Postsecondary Education, provides measurable learning outcomes that can help institutions develop outcomes-based programs.
- The Aspen Institute released a report on optimizing learning and innovation, which includes five principles for improving learning environments and creating rewarding learning experiences. The report also suggests that new assessments and tools should be developed to convey evidence of student achievement through learning networks.
- Allowing students to write about their emotions before a math exam can potentially improve math education and learning in the classroom. Teachers have the necessary training to talk to students who encounter difficulties and may work to reduce math anxiety by ensuring students have basic numeric skills.
- This author shares ten books on teaching and learning for faculty members that can help to shape or reshape teaching in a substantive and practical way.
- More students are gaining experience abroad through internships, research opportunities, practicums, and volunteering instead of the traditional study abroad programs. In response to the non-traditional experiences, some universities are awarding academic certificates to students for their international achievements.
- The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released new guidelines outlining skills and knowledge that all medical students should have by the time they begin their residencies. The AAMC developed the guidelines with a group of graduate medical experts in response to feedback about the preparedness of entering residents.
- Responding to the calls for better information about how well colleges and universities are serving today’s students, AAC&U’s Board of Directors released a statement urging institutions to take the lead in framing these debates around appropriate metrics that focus on what students learn in college, as well as completion rates.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for May/June 2014 is now available. Articles in this issue include Dianna Renz’s “Community College Strategies,” Douglas J. Eder’s “Healthy Assessment: What Nursing Schools Can Teach Us about Effective Assessment of Student Learning,” and Jillian Kinzie, Natasha Jankowski, and Staci Provezis’s “Do Good Assessment Practices Measure Up to the Principles of Assessment?”
- The New America Education Policy Program released a policy brief titled Building a New AAU: The Case for Redefining Higher Education Excellence. The brief explains that a new AAU would provide structure for aspiring universities seeking AAU membership while rewarding institutions that are committed to keeping college accessible, affordable, and focused on student success.
Inside Higher Ed released a booklet, available for download, of articles and essays about efforts to reshape what and how colleges teach. They will also host a webinar on June 26 to discuss the issues raised within the booklet.
- Heritage University created a video series in order to help faculty and instructors better serve first-generation students. The videos include practices that can be implemented to keep first-generation students from feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.
- This author shares his idea for getting students to participate in large lecture classes by making it a required activity. The required participation allowed students to create a sense of community in such a large class, gain confidence by speaking in public, and learn from each other.
- The Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE) announced plans to spin off a learning-analytics project as a separate non-profit group. The project shares data about student learning at on-ground and competency-based institutions.
- Guttman Community College created a first-year program aimed at improving student engagement and retention rates through an intensive, highly structured experience. Students in the program are kept on track by working closely with staff members who serve as advocates and professors who keep students engaged in course material.
- The latest issue of the Toolbox (Volume 12, Number 5) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on connecting course content from the classroom to the current culture that is shaping students’ lives.
- The University of Central Oklahoma was recognized during the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) annual conference in April for having the best paper in the category of Assessing and Improving Student Learning. Central’s submission, “Using a Transformative Learning Transcript to Assess High-Impact Practices,” was the work of six members of the university’s leadership.
- The second edition of Researching Teaching and Student Outcomes in Postsecondary Education: An Introduction is now available. The guide offers an introduction on using research and other data collection to evaluate teaching methods.
- New Issue of Change: The Magazine of Higher LearningThe latest issue of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (Volume 46, Issue 3) is now available. Articles in this issue include David D. Dill’s “Ensuring Academic Standards in US Higher Education,” Debra Humphreys’ “Employment Outcomes in the Four-Year Sector: The Value of Liberal Arts Degrees,” and Linda Krzykowski and Kevin Kinser’s “Transparency in Student Learning Assessment: Can Accreditation Standards Make a Difference?”
- Alternative forms of student evaluation allow instructors to see if students truly understand the subject matter instead of an essay that might not catch learning issues until the end of the semester. Presentations, posters sessions, and other engaged activities let students develop oral skills and demonstrate knowledge gained.
- A Boost for Active Learning
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed discuss research that found students engaged in active learning in STEM courses instead of lecture-only courses had higher pass rates. The study suggests that active learning methods such as group-problem solving and workshops are more effective than traditional lecturing.
- The Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University released a report on the current approaches to federal funding for students in competency-based education programs. The report also includes possible changes that can be made to current approaches in how aid is disbursed.
- The University of South Florida will launch a pilot nursing program for veterans that will give academic credit for military training. The Student Veterans of America (SVA) hope that more universities will also begin offering academic credit for veterans’ experience so they can complete degrees faster and save money.
- The assistant director is responsible for supporting the improvement of the student experience and student learning through the development of learning assessment activities. The assistant director collects and analyzes learning assessment data and participates in the development of related plans and interventions as well as participating in the implementation of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and meeting related accreditation reporting requirements.
- Economics students in 19 countries released a joint statement to change the way economics is taught. Students believe that the curriculum has become too far removed from real world issues and limits their ability to contend with challenges from society.
- The latest issue of AAC&U’s Diversity & Democracy (Volume 17, Number 2) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on global learning and how to prepare students for cultural competencies and global citizenship.
- Higher education institutions in Utah have been involved in the tuning process to help students understand what they have learned during their academic career and to communicate to employers the skills they have gained. Tuning has also allowed institutions to collaborate on determining common competencies that should be mastered for particular disciplines.
- Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University conducted a study to measure evidence of students’ learning in MOOCs. They concluded that many students do not engage or interact with others in the class and do not retain or use new knowledge.
- A study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario suggests that tools for measuring critical thinking should be integrated into the curriculum. The authors recommend aligning critical thinking teaching framework with assessment tools to measure critical thinking at the course level.
- The latest issue of Peer Review (Volume 16, Number 1) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on how e-portfolios can be used for comprehensive assessment and also to enhance student learning.
- The University of Guelph and four other institutions have partnered with Desire2Learn, a provider of learning management systems, to track and assess student learning outcomes across programs. The initiative will enable institutions to measure learning outcomes on a continual basis and allow students to see the skills they have acquired over the course of their academic careers.
- The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) selected fourteen institutions to participate in a “jumpstart” program for developing degree programs based on competencies instead of credit hours.
- This author offers five lessons from the health-care ratings initiative during the 1980s that the Education Department can learn when drafting the college ratings system for measuring the value of a college degree.
- This author offers three reasons why including multimedia assignments in the classroom can deepen students’ engagement, utilize a variety of skills, and encourage students to continue learning outside of the classroom.
- Lipscomb University developed a competency-based framework for 22 majors in the College of Professional Studies that combines competency-based credits and conventional courses. Entering students begin the program by participating in a day-long process of assessments to earn credits for prior learning and performance.
- The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) and Community College Learning Assessment (CCLA) in providing useful information for institutions, students, and employers.
- The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) released a document summarizing outcomes and lessons learned on the cross-state Tuning initiative with Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. The document also includes recommendations for the use of Tuning to improve teaching, learning, and student success.
- AAC&U is offering resources for first year-students on the benefits of a liberal education and what can be expected of them as they begin their undergraduate career.
- Several community colleges have begun to partner with local school districts to offer remedial courses to high school students. College and school officials hope this will better prepare students for college-level work.
- Public institutions in Florida are waiting for clarification on a bill introduced last year that will allow credit to be given for outside courses, including MOOCs. In preparation, Florida International University developed a prior learning assessment which will determine if students have achieved adequate levels of learning via an outside course.
Inside Higher Ed released a booklet, available for download, of articles and essays about the flipped classroom. They will also host a webinar on May 8 to discuss the issues raised within the booklet.
- Educators met and discussed support structures, culture, and rewards for effective teaching. Participants outlined institutions that are developing programs focusing on improving graduate student teaching to better prepare them for teaching careers.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for March/April 2014 is now available. Articles in this issue include Stephanie Foote and Andy Dyer’s "Assessing Deep Learning: Using a Porfolio to Evaluate Gains in Critical Inquiry among First-Year Students,” Amy Thelk’s "Building a Better Course-Evaluation Process,” and Kevin Schoepp and Angela Skuba’s "Effective Leadership Assessment: A 360-Degree Process.”
- Cleveland State University introduced an initiative that will get more students to degree completion. Students are allowed to register for a year of courses before the fall semester begins in hopes of letting students plan for the whole year, set expectations, and see the end goal.
- The latest issue of Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (Volume 46, Issue 2) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on active learning and developing transferrable intellectual skills.
- Regional Accreditors Agree on Common Terms
- This author offers some suggestions for helping ESL students transition into the classroom. Building a classroom community and encouraging interaction with classmates can allow non-native speakers to be more comfortable with participating in class discussions.
- Three colleges in northern Georgia are working together to offer free career assessments and counseling to adults in the area. Officials believe these services will help residents who have not completed a college degree to explore possible majors and career paths.
- Low Expectations, High Stakes
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed feature a report released by the Center for Community College Student Engagement, which suggests that part-time faculty face a less supportive environment than their full-time peers. Improving working conditions can enhance student learning and help increase retention rates.
- New research on teaching students to transfer knowledge is aiming to increase how well students draw on prior knowledge to interpret ideas and engage in metacognition. Some professors of first year composition courses are using a more explicit approach to teaching writing, which has produced gains in writing-skills transfer in their students.
- A growing number of community colleges are joining the Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) in an effort to measure performance and compare themselves to similar-sized institutions. The VFA was developed by the American Association of Community Colleges so it offers a more effective baseline for community colleges to report data and spot areas of needed improvement.
- The latest issue of the Toolbox (Volume 12, Number 4) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on a new, creative way to challenge students in their critical thinking and writing.
- Applications for the 2014 Association for General and Liberal Studies Award for Exemplary Program Processes are now being accepted. The application asks institutions to describe their collaborative efforts to develop institutional support and goals for quality programs, implement processes to achieve the goals, gather results to assess the impact of processes, and use the results to enhance the programs.
- The results of an effort to gauge incoming college students’ writing skills found that many believe they are prepared for college-level writing. Students estimated spending 25 hours each week on academic formal and informal personal writing, and many professors hope students can make connections between their informal and formal writing.
- This author believes that giving feedback to students early enough in the semester allows them to monitor their progress more efficiently and work harder to meet an instructor’s expectations.
- Judith Eaton, president of CHEA, is interviewed on the topic of accreditation and the issues it faces for the latest installment of New Directions for Higher Education in the New England Journal of Higher Education.
- A study published by the Educational Psychology Review found that making small changes in homework practices by incorporating principles of cognitive science improved student learning.
- CHEA announced the 2014 winners of the Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes.
This author explores the science of teaching and learning, specifically brain-based research and how learning happens. He also spotlights a book, Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science Into the Curriculum, that offers cognitive-based interventions for increasing learning in classrooms.
- What Matters to Academic-Library Directors? Information Literacy
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed highlight the results from a survey of library directors. The majority of respondents stated their most important function is teaching research skills to undergraduate students, and some institutions are even engaged in a form of library assessment to measure the efficiency of library services.
- Several institutions are now feeling the push to show employment statistics for graduates, but many oppose those efforts to use employment data to quantify education success.
- The latest issue of AAC&U News (March 2014) examines connecting student academic success with work-study jobs on campus. The University of Iowa launched an initiative to engage student employees in conversations with their supervisors about work and how it relates to academic skills and future career goals.
- The Competency-Based Education Network selected 18 institutions to participate in a group that will address challenges and obstacles to designing and developing competency-based education programs.
- Evergreen State College’s academic statement assessment requires students to reflect and write on their educational choices and what they’ve learned throughout their academic careers. Officials at Evergreen stated the academic statement initiative was faculty-driven and asks students to articulate the value of their education.
- Eugene Lang College surveyed its alumni to see how their education prepared them for life after college. The majority of those who responded stated that Lang did prepare them for life after college, and the survey allowed them to communicate the value of a college education.
- A study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario suggests that certain learning technologies can be developed to exercise and assess desired learning outcomes. The authors studied students’ participation in a peer-reviewed assignment and found that an assignment can be constructed to exercise a learning objective such as critical thinking.
- This author questions whether competency-based education can lead to open-ended inquiry and critical thinking and if it will truly allow students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of subject material.
- Kalamazoo College began publishing test results in an effort to be more transparent and demonstrate what its students learned in four years. Officials at the college stated that publicizing the results gives prospective students and families valuable information on the school’s performance.
- Richard J. Daley College Seeks an Assessment Center Coordinator
The City Colleges of Chicago invites applications for the position of Coordinator at Richard J. Daley College’s Assessment Center. This position plans and administers assessment instruments to students and coordinates the scoring process. In addition, this position is responsible for creating brochures and information to promote services offered by the Center. Please read more here.
- Problem Centered Inquiry and Assessment in the Context of Liberal Education
Click here to listen to a Radio Higher Ed podcast with AAC&U president, Carol Geary Schneider, on problem centered inquiry and assessment.
DQP co-author Paul Gaston recently released a book titled Higher Education Accreditation: How It’s Changing and Why It Must. In the book, he discusses why regional accreditors should identify common standards and encourage greater innovation in higher education.
- Alexander Astin reflects on the process of accreditation in the U.S. and how this primary means of quality control is, and should remain, independent of the government.
- A one-hour program for new students called a “difference-education intervention” is designed to close the achievement gap between first-generation and other students. During the program, junior and seniors discuss challenges they encountered and how they sought out resources to resolve issues so that first-generation students can successfully adjust to college.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for January/February 2014 is now available. Articles in this issue include Abraham Lauer and Jamie Korin’s "Expanding Assessment Perspectives: The Importance of Student Leadership in Student Learning Outcomes Assessment,” Jane Souza’s "Empowering Faculty and Students with Assessment Data,” and Tara Ebersole’s "Relating Students’ Grades and Measures of Specific Outcomes.”
- Sarah Lawrence College created its own assessment system which does not use tests to measure student learning. Their system is a more personalized approach to evaluation and requires an analysis of every student after each course.
- With the latest trend of competency-based education, residential liberal arts colleges are aiming to prove why learning in a residential setting is better.
- A study by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario suggests that training graduate teaching assistants in a more student-centered approach can improve teaching effectiveness and student outcomes.
- The University of Maine at Presque Isle is basing its academic programs on proficiency-based curriculums instead of the grading system. University officials stated moving beyond grades will create a more personalized, self-paced approach to learning.
- Find out what's new with NILOA in addition to recent news items about learning outcomes assessment in this month's newsletter
- Teaching and learning scholars are seeking to document what happens in the classroom in order to improve teaching methods. Classroom observations, which are a form of assessment, can connect the data points from what the faculty are doing to what students are learning.
- Lakehead University launched the Co-Curricular Record (CCR) that documents students’ involvement in activities that are not for credit. The CCR recognizes non-academic skills and learning outcomes gained outside the classroom and is an incentive for students to become more engaged.
- This author believes frequent, low-stakes tests throughout a semester can have a significant impact on student learning by helping students retain class material better and becoming more comfortable with testing.
- The latest issue of AAC&U News (January/February 2014) examines a survey conducted by AAU among research universities and their dedication to assessing and improving undergraduate learning. The issue also includes a call for best practices of the AAC&U Global Learning VALUE Rubric.
- The Educational Testing Service is connecting badges to two tests - the Proficiency Profile and iSkills - assessments that aim to measure what students learn in college. After completing the assessments, students can earn digital badges based on their performance.
This article highlights the latest NILOA report and the increase in learning assessment activity. It also recommends that colleges need to provide more information and data for students and families to make informed decisions.
- The Community College Research Center at Columbia University released a report on the impact of developmental education. Their study evaluated the effectiveness of community college remedial courses and concluded that developmental education is not improving outcomes for underprepared students and could benefit from reform.
- Peer Review (Volume 15, Number 4) focuses on senior capstone courses, projects, and examples of best practices.
Scott Kinney, president of Capella University, discusses the importance of transparency regarding learning outcomes. He states that assessment results should be shared more often, as emphasized in the latest NILOA report.
- The latest issue of The Toolbox (Volume 12, Number 3) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on engaging in digital teaching and learning.
- Theme-based general education ‘pathways’ programs, where required coursework is categorized into academically or socially relevant themes, are becoming a growing trend. Advocates for thematic pathways suggest that they create a more meaningful experience for students along with the opportunity to demonstrate the value of an undergraduate degree.
- This author explains why a speed dating model can be more effective than a panel discussion in the classroom. The model can enhance student engagement and allow for a deeper learning experience by providing more interaction between students and panelists.
- Inside Higher Ed’s survey of chief academic officers includes a section on learning outcomes and assessment. The majority of provosts stated using tools to assess student learning, but not all institutions use data on assessment results to advise decision making.
- The College of Idaho introduced the PEAK program that requires students to have one major and three minors in different areas. The program maintains the ideals of liberal arts education while allowing students to start classes in their majors sooner rather than later.
- Many institutions have identified the advantages of e-portfolios as tools to help students articulate their learning goals and track their progress. The reflective nature of e-portfolios might make learning more effective for students.
- The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is seeking applications from higher education institutions to participate in the second year of “Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success.” Each institution will select team members headed by a librarian team leader to examine the impact of the library on student success.
- Colleges Measure Learning in More Ways, but Seldom Share Results
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed highlight NILOA’s latest report, “Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in U.S. Colleges and Universities.” The report reveals that measuring student learning increased, but institutions are not using assessment results as often to make effective changes.
- University of Wisconsin-Platteville seeks an Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville invites applications for the Executive Director of Institutional Effective and Assessment. This position will lead the new Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment (OIEA) to help centralize and expand the university’s ability to conduct assessment, streamline institutional research and planning, support integrated planning, and inform decision-making. The position reports to the Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. Please read more here.
- This author argues that an outcomes-based model of education can benefit students completing a degree in the liberal arts. By articulating outcomes and teaching to those outcomes, students can fully articulate the advantages of their skills and competencies.
- CUNY is expanding its Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) in order to improve the graduation rates of low-income students. The program offers free tuition and textbooks along with structured advising and class schedules to selected participants.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education introduced the Interstate Passport Agreement which will make it easier for students to transfer their general-education coursework between institutions. The passport project focuses on learning outcomes and proficiencies for students to demonstrate when transferring instead of credit hours.
- The University of California at Davis created a digital badge system that focuses on competency- based education and knowledge learned outside of the classroom. The badging system does not replace college credentials, and it allows students to communicate the experiential learning in which they have engaged.
- The latest issue of Liberal Education features articles examining the phenomenon of MOOCs and if they are revolutionizing higher education. Others articles focus on competency-based education and whether it will replace seat time.
- The latest issue of Research and Practice in Assessment (Volume 8, Winter 2013) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on assessment in the field of student affairs and showcase the scholarship of faculty from five major research universities.
- Clear and organized teaching can have a valuable impact on student learning and critical thinking skills. New research from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education confirms a relationship between students’ perceptions of teaching quality and approaches to learning.
- The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) updated its approach to measuring students’ participation in activities that are associated with higher learning outcomes. The updated model is more qualitative and includes new questions on the student experience and learning with technology.
- Adding Competency to Community
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed highlight efforts from Western Governors University to partner with eleven community colleges to create competency-based degree programs. Participating community college officials recognized the demand for more innovative and effective ways for students to build on their own experiences and earn degrees.
A report from the Data Quality Campaign tracks states that are collecting and using data on student performance to inform stakeholders on educational improvement efforts. The report also includes ten steps on how to support effective data use to prepare students for the future.
- The latest issue of The Toolbox (Volume 12, Number 2) is now available. Articles in this issue focus on adopting oral discourse as an assessment tool.
- A report released by the Center for American Progress chronicles students enrolled in competency-based programs. The report is aiming to identify the positive qualities and commonalities that exist among their experiences and competency-based education.
- Advocates for competency-based education continue to promote the positive aspects of learning outside of the classroom and demonstrating acquired knowledge, skills and abilities that can translate into earning a degree.
- Jennifer Stephens Helm, Dean and VP of Institutional Research and Assessment at American Public University System (APUS), discusses adopting the DQP framework. APUS replaced their existing institutional learning outcomes with the five areas of student learning specified in the DQP along with an additional outcome of digital information literacy that is distinctive to APUS.
- This author argues that assessment practices should be recognized as opportunities for learning, and the approach to conducting assessment should begin with faculty engagement.
- U.S. lawmakers are drafting new bills aimed at reforming higher education. Senate members recently debated on changing the accreditation system along with federal financial aid policy.
- The Obama administration is traveling to four college campuses this month to gather information and feedback on its proposal to create a federal college ratings system. Several university leaders have stated concerns about the validity of the metrics and what data will be measured.
- Faculty members at Lafayette College developed a strategy to integrate the outcome of diversity into the curriculum. Professors who participated in the project stated that this opportunity allowed them to explore the topic of diversity with students in more creative ways.
- Several institutions are now offering low cost competency-based programs which use a student-centered model, but critics have concerns that these programs focus too heavily on skills and outcomes rather than disciplines and the higher education experience.
- Several states’ increasing interest in student learning has led to the development of performance-based appropriations. In response to criticism that it will diminish academic quality, states created performance-based formulas that include quality assurance.
- Complete College America is aiming to increase college completion rates by developing action plans with the 34 states that have joined their Alliance of States and committed to set completion goals through 2020.
- Some ed tech companies and universities are now using the term “learning experience” instead of “course.” This shift is due to the recognition of learning outside of the traditional classroom in online formats.
AAC&U released a new publication, Using the VALUE Rubrics for Improvement of Learning and Authentic Assessment, which provides information about the development and use of the VALUE rubrics for assessment of student learning.
- A report released by Complete College America and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems tracks how states are moving to performance-based funding. The report acknowledges that more states have begun to include measures of student learning and academic quality into their funding mechanisms.
- Lumina Foundation released a publication on how the Common Core State Standards and the Degree Qualifications Profile can better align K-12 and higher education.
- Several community colleges began testing MOOCs last year, but the majority remains skeptical of adopting a massive open online course at an environment meant for small class sizes and more faculty interaction.
- Texas, Ohio, and Montana’s public-college systems will begin working with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning to evaluate using prior-learning assessments. The council has previously not worked on statewide and multi-institution adoption of prior-learning assessments and they intend to set plans within each state system to document the process.
- The Council for Higher Education Accreditation developed an easy-to-use Tool Kit to provide information on accreditation to faculty, students, presidents and chancellors, governing boards, and accreditors.
- The Association for Institutional Research October newsletter features an article on public accessibility to institutional data dashboards. The majority of AIR member survey respondents indicated their dashboards are not viewable by the public, and some are limited to only campus administrators.
- Digital badge programs, which were originally developed for MOOC classes and distance learning, are becoming integrated into traditional course formats. Learners are rewarded with a digital badge upon completion of certain skills, and early research argues that badges can increase motivation and add incentive to the learning process.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for September/October 2013 is now available. Articles in this issue include Eloise Knowlton's "Through the Rearview Looking Glass: Collaborative Writing and the Accreditation Self-Study,” Tiffany Hamlett and Mary Bold’s "Faculty Development for Online Institutions,” and Sarah Keeling, Kara Woodlee, and Michelle Maher’s "Assessment is Not a Spectator Sport: Experiencing Authentic Assessment in the Classroom.”
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) invites attendees to one of their free online open forums to learn more about the work of their task force appointed to oversee substantial revisions to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Learn more here.
- This article offers suggestions for improving the online learning experience for MOOCs so that students feel more engaged and are willing to participate in online class discussions and forums. These changes have the potential to lead to increased pass rates for MOOCs.
- Several community colleges are aiming to increase civic engagement among commuter and adult students. Numerous institutions created mapping projects to get students involved in service learning in their own neighborhoods.
A study released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development claims that adults in the U.S. have below-average basic literacy skills. Carol Geary Schneider, president of AAC&U, said the results should prompt colleges, not just public education, to focus on policies that raise proficiency levels in K-12 education.
- This professor reflects on an assignment that successfully engaged students with course material and strengthened the learning experience in the classroom.
- This student questions the validity of standardized testing and the significance of the CLA+, a test which measures graduating seniors’ growth and evidence of work-readiness skills.
- Are Illinois High School Graduates Ready for College and Careers?
Three reports released by the Pathways Resource Center address the importance of policies that promote college and career readiness for Illinois high school students.
- This article describes the steps taken by Lebanon Valley College to retain accreditation and how the college used academic assessment to focus on its primary mission of student learning.
- The University of Wisconsin will start its competency-based education program, called Flex Option, later this year. The program is designed to increase the number of degree holders in the state, but faculty members responsible for designing assessments for the Flex Option are skeptical that the program will meet academic standards.
- Ontario College of Art and Design adopted a new grading policy which assesses course work in relation to how well it meets the learning outcomes for a specific course. OCAD describes this new policy as transparent and fair for students.
- The latest issue of Liberal Education features an article on efforts to encourage critical thinking in online classes. Also featured is an article on the success of Michigan State University’s initiative to integrate institution-specific student learning goals with the VALUE rubric for global learning.
- New software at Purdue University, called Signals, is tracking students’ progress in certain classes and whether or not they have completed assignments. Classes using Signals have seen higher retention rates than those without the software.
- Testing firms are responding to the push in accountability in higher education by offering skills assessments. These new assessments track students’ learning outcomes and improvements over time, and the data will be of use to accreditors and faculty members.
- These authors offer a few examples of using formative assessment in online classrooms. Some possibilities include utilizing a double-entry journal and student-generated test questions in order to gauge student understanding.
- The Adjunct Advantage
According to the results of a survey conducted by Northeastern University, employers and the public want colleges to prepare graduates to communicate effectively and think critically. Employers also responded that it is important for students to be well-rounded rather than receive training that is too narrow and specific.
- College Board president, David Coleman, described changes to the SAT which will include a revision to the essay portion of the test. Coleman also announced that he would like to align the test more closely to high school and college curriculums.
- Students at Avans University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands were given the opportunity to structure their own learning by leading classes. As a result of this experiment, students were more engaged in the classroom and their grades improved.
- Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, shares ACE's evaluation and research initiative to review MOOCs for college credit and to examine their academic potential to increase student learning and strengthen college curriculums.
- George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, discusses the importance for colleges and universities to put student learning at the center of policies and procedures so that higher education can remain valuable.
- Canadian medical education is introducing a competency-based approach that will require students to progress through milestones before they can move to the next level. The program will also include individual e-portfolios so students can see their demonstrated competencies as they advance.
- The American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a “Humanities Report Card” described as a “snapshot” of the current data on the humanities. This report card includes areas of improvement and challenges still faced by the humanities.
- In an article from The Chronicle, Alexander Astin states that institutions should strive to use before-and-after assessments that measure students’ change over time instead of end-of-course evaluations. Using the before-and-after tests along with gathering data on students’ educational experiences can help strengthen educational programs.
- California State University, Fullerton is seeking a Director of Assessment & Educational Effectiveness
California State University at Fullerton seeks an individual for the position of Director of Assessment & Educational Effectiveness to administer the development and implementation of assessment plans (including General Education and online instruction) at program, center, department, College and University levels and ensure the alignment of learning outcomes across all levels. This position will develop and administer training and guidance to faculty and staff on issues related to academic assessment. Please read more here.
- The Council for Aid to Education developed an exam that tests students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, writing, scientific and quantitative reasoning skills. Some institutions will begin using the exam to measure their students’ employability, while others will utilize the exam to assess student improvement.
AAC&U released a new publication, Ensuring Quality & Taking High-Impact Practices to Scale, which presents research on educational practices that are related to higher levels of student engagement, academic challenge, and achievement. The publication, co-authored by George Kuh, includes case studies of five campuses delivering high-impact practices.
- Universities in the U.K. are asking faculty members to state their teaching qualifications for a survey conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Officials at the agency will publish the survey data next year since they believe it is crucial that those who teach students are qualified to do so.
- University of Colorado at Denver Seeks a Library Assessment Coordinator
The Auraria Library at the University of Colorado, Denver seeks a creative, flexible and innovative individual who is able to provide leadership in developing comprehensive and sustainable assessment and evaluation programs and to work independently with internal and external campus constituents. In this newly created position, the Assessment Librarian will serve as an expert resource and engage with Library departments to analyze and report assessment data; document the Library's value and impact; and develop a comprehensive evaluation program that ensures continuous improvement and evidence-based strategic-planning and decision making. Please read more here.
- According to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, many students enrolled in large first-year university classes are more engaged when lecture content is provided online and class time is focused on discussion and interaction.
- Inside Higher Ed's survey of professors found skepticism among faculty members about the quality of online learning. Many question whether online courses can achieve learning outcomes similar to in-person courses.
- Two professors at the University of Texas at Austin will broadcast their lectures live for their online psychology course which they are calling a synchronous massive online course or SMOC.
- Maryland University of Integrative Health is seeking a Director of Academic Assessment
Maryland University of Integrative Health invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Assessment. The Director will be responsible for managing academic assessment for on-ground and online academic programs. The position will report to the Provost and will work to integrate the academic strategy into the overall institutional assessment strategy. For more information about the position and how to apply, please click here.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for July/August 2013 is now available. Articles in this issue include Jessica Ickes and Daniel Flowers' "Student Interpretation of Selected Degree Qualifications Profile Outcomes," Gary Pike's "The Updated National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)," and Dorothy Bray's "Ingenuity: A New Super Skill, a New Assessment Challenge, a New National Conversation."
- The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association released a statement approving the initiatives of the Obama administration to encourage innovation in enhancing student learning.
- NILOA 2013 National Survey of Chief Academic Officers
The 2013 national survey of Chief Academic Officers and institutional assessment practice is currently out in the field. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey if you have received an invitation. To see a copy of the survey, please click here.
- Five possibilities for how the Common Core could impact higher education are offered in this article. One possibility is that the Common Core could reduce the need for remedial courses at colleges and universities since students would come better prepared.
- This author offers suggestions on how to reduce cheating among college students which involve increasing student learning. Low-stakes assessments, such as frequent quizzes and reflection exercises, can actually produce learning and lead to decreased rates of cheating.
- ACT Scores Slip
- This author reflects on students' higher-level thinking within courses and how professors can connect deep learning from one course to an institution's academic objectives.
- Southern New Hampshire University's College for America now has its first graduate from the competency-based program. The direct assessment associate degree is not based on the credit hour standard and students must demonstrate competencies in order to move through the program.
The American College Personnel Association released a publication titled Assessment in Practice: A Companion Guide to the ASK Standards which provides examples of best practices of assessment according to the Assessment Skills and Knowledge Standards.
- Students enrolled in a new competency-based program at Northern Arizona University will receive a second transcript called a "competency report," which outlines students' proficiency in required concepts. Some assessment experts claim that, while they are not ideal, the competency reports may provide more substantive evidence of student learning than the traditional transcript.
- Capella University's competency-based FlexPath program has received approval from the US Department of Education. The program is online, self-paced and allows for assessment based on demonstrated competencies rather than credit hours.
- This article explores the advantages and potential consequences of computerized instruction and testing. Proponents claim that technology-based may allow for more individualized learning and real-time assessment. Opponents, however, suggest that using technology as a replacement for teachers could lead to a "tech-oriented, tested-focus education reform."
- According to a report from Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, many students who return to high school in Ontario do so in order to pursue postsecondary education.
- Some institutions plan to offer transfer credit for courses completed through MOOCs, particularly Coursera and Udacity. Universities are attempting to determine how to measure the learning that takes place in a MOOC course and how that learning will transfer.
- Career Education Corporation is utilizing adaptive learning in its courses in an effort to improve student success. Officials at Career Education view the data-driven tools of adaptive learning as beneficial for helping faculty adjust teaching strategies and increasing student persistence and completion rates.
- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development created an international testing system that would assess what students around the world are learning in colleges and universities. According to the organization, this new system will measure teaching quality and learning outcomes as a response to the increasing influence of university rankings.
- This author predicts 15 innovations that will change the face of higher education within the next three years. A few of these predictions include increased competency-based education, personalized adaptive learning, and evidence-based pedagogy.
- The latest issue of Liberal Education features a Transparency Initiative project which helps faculty identify and adopt learning and teaching methods that are best suited to achieving desired outcomes. The project has found that transparent teaching and learning methods allow students to gain an enhanced understanding of their learning.
- U-Multirank, an initiative funded by the European Commission, is offering university rankings based on five dimensions: teaching and learning, research, knowledge transfer, international orientation, and regional engagement. The developers consider these dimensions to be meaningful indicators of institutional strength and diversity.
- Starting this fall, Iowa's three public universities will be required by state law to create formative and summative assessments and submit proposals for using assessment to improve student learning. Faculty members will be given flexibility in defining methods of measurement and learning outcomes that will best contribute to continuous improvement.
- This author centered his teaching techniques on Kolb's Experiential Learning Model (ELM) for an online course and found that a valuable student-centered learning environment is possible in an online setting.
- The North Carolina Community College System released a report illustrating the performance of its 58 campuses. The performance measures focus on student progress, and the report is considered a step towards accountability.
- The Higher Learning Commission approved a competency-based degree program at the University of Wisconsin. The Flexible Option program is the first at a major public university and is being seen as a way to increase the number of degree holders in the state.
- New Yardstick of Quality
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed discuss the Voluntary Institutional Metrics Project which is comprised of 18 institutions that collaborated together to create metrics that are comparable across institutions. The project established five metrics in an effort to give government officials a more accurate view of colleges and universities.
- Facing challenges to establish quality assurance within European higher education, this author suggests that institutions should grant grades based on fixed key learning outcomes instead of the learning outcomes of a student cohort. Accountability and transparency might also lead to increased quality assurance and mutual recognition of degrees.
- Making the Case for Liberal Arts
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed highlight a report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that emphasizes the importance of the humanities and social sciences. The report argues they provide a broad, comprehensive, and balanced form of education that prepares graduates to be well-rounded.
- Some universities in Canada are seeking U.S. accreditation in an effort to implement assessment practices that will ensure quality standards are met. The move to gain U.S. accreditation will also drive institutional efforts in assessment of student learning.
- Oregon State University is analyzing the success of students enrolled in their online courses. This review process is aiming to evaluate how learning outcomes should be developed for online learning.
- A study of learning studios by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has found increased satisfaction from students and faculty. The authors also noted the environment of learning studios encouraged the implementation of learning strategies that had not been possible in traditional classrooms.
- New Measure of Success
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed announce the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) which was developed by six higher education associations. This new tracking method relies on different metrics than the federal government's system, and it aims to provide a more comprehensive glimpse at how students progress and complete college.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for May/June 2013 is now available. Articles in this issue include Maureen Snow Andrade's "Launching E-Portfolios: An Organic Process," Trudy Banta's "Envisioning Learning," Debra Smith's "Working at Assessment," and Peter Ewell's "From the States."
- The Educational Testing Service developed two new assessment tools that will measure student learning. Students who take the tests will be assessed on reading, writing, critical thinking and ability to navigate through digital technology.
- Northern Arizona University received approval from the Higher Learning Commission to offer competency-based online degrees. The program, Personalized Learning, will allow students to demonstrate prior knowledge and learning will be self-paced and customized for students.
- Judith Eaton, president of CHEA, presented her thoughts on the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act which was initiated in April and whether traditional accreditation can be sustained.
- Smooth Lectures Foster Only the Illusion of Learning, Study Finds
- AAC&U's Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) project released a rubric to assess global learning. The rubric was developed for AAC&U's Essential Learning Outcomes for students graduating in an increasing global society.
- A new report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario examined the experiences of non-traditional students who participated in college preparatory programs. The authors suggested that the quality of preparatory programs should be in focus so students are properly prepared for the transition into postsecondary programs.
- Students who interact more with their international classmates gain a greater cultural awareness and develop intellectual skills that can benefit them after graduation. The authors of this study suggest that colleges can foster greater international interaction on their campuses.
- Researchers at MIT and Harvard published a study that found students enrolled in MOOC classes who worked offline with someone else had better scores than those who worked on their own. The authors hope to use this research to understand which students are most likely to succeed in MOOCs.
- An article by Cliff Adelman discusses the importance of the DQP as a tool for clarifying what degrees mean as expressed by statements of competencies. Using the DQP as a framework, competencies can be demonstrated throughout a student's academic career in multiple courses not just through credits and GPA scores.
- The University of Guelph adopted learning outcomes for its graduate programs that correspond to the learning outcomes recently approved for the undergraduate curriculum. This makes the university the first institution in Canada believed to have across-the-board learning outcomes for all its degree programs.
The Southern Education Foundation released a publication on the importance of assessment at minority serving institutions and how they can document and convey student learning on their campuses. The publication can be found in NILOA's Resource Library.
- Educational quality is no longer only under the control of higher education institutions and accreditors as government involvement has increased globally. This author suggests one way for higher education institutions to regain control is to agree on how quality can be defined and demonstrated.
- The Higher Learning Commission approved Capella University's pilot program of competency-based education which uses direct assessment instead of credit hours to track learning.
A new group created by CHEA introduced a series of policy briefs that will focus on quality assurance of higher education institutions in an international setting. The first issue of Policy Brief can be found in the NILOA Resource Library.
- Less Academically Adrift?
Articles in The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed highlight studies conducted by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) that suggest there is significant growth in student learning during college. This contrasts findings from the authors of Academically Adrift that found there is little growth in student learning in colleges.
- The makers of learning management systems are looking for developers to design an application that will work across their different products to create a common 'edtech ecosystem.'
The American College Personnel Association released a publication titled Accreditation and the Role of the Student Affairs Educator which includes a chapter on assessment and institutional effectiveness. The publication can be found in NILOA's Resource Library.
- Peer Review (Volume 15, Number 1) focuses on how administrators, faculty, and staff can collaborate and work together to promote successful learning outcomes.
- AAC&U published a print version of the DQP which features a new preface by Terrel Rhodes, Vice President of AAC&U, and offers advice and direction on how to assess learning in relation to the competencies outlined in the DQP.
- A blog posting by George Kuh discusses the revision of the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) and proposes four additional modifications that focus on emphasizing transparency efforts in assessment and accountability. Editor's note: NILOA's Transparency Framework can be used as a guide for institutions to evaluate and present evidence of student learning.
This article explores the recent revisions of the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) based in part on feedback from a 2012 NILOA report that found the VSA needed to expand the range of assessment tools for it to be useful to institutions. Co-author Stan Ikenberry is interviewed in the article.
- A simple but effective assignment has the potential to get students thinking more critically about challenging reading assignments, and this can lead to greater student engagement in the classroom.
- Vocational assessments can provide information for exploring career options, but since they only highlight part of a person's interests, university career centers must be careful not to rely solely on taking tests when helping students choose careers.
- After working on a series of projects to examine assessment measures, HEQCO identified learning outcomes as the most fundamental element of quality assurance. They invited six institutions to join a consortium committed to the assessment of learning and cognitive skills.
- A second generation of MOOCs is emerging aiming to address the issue of quality by integrating distance education with on-ground programs so students are able to receive feedback and other academic support services in order to be successful.
- This author wonders if it is possible to develop an assessment system that demonstrates the value of educational programs instead of adopting numerical measurements to assess what students are learning.
- The Voluntary Framework of Accountability is aiming to measure community college students' progress and outcomes, and there is potential for the VFA to influence institutional improvement and policy on accountability.
- This author suggests five areas that should guide institutions when reviewing program assessment plans to ensure that assessment activities and reports actually produce change.
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for March/April 2013 is now available. Articles in this issue include Carolinda Douglass and Eric Niemi's "Including Students in Student Assessment," Mitchell Peterson and Amanda Gustafson's "Using Curriculum-Embedded Assessments of Student Learning: Establishing a Model for Internal Benchmarking," and Gary Pike's "Assessment Measures."
- African nations have agreed to develop a system of quality assurance for higher education which will also include a framework for students that transfer among African universities.
The University of Illinois at Chicago was the focus of a case study to develop and implement a course-based general education assessment. Click here to read the case study.
- With the U.S. Department of Education's approval to receive federal financial aid for students, Southern New Hampshire University's College for America program is moving forward to offer an associate degree based on demonstrating competencies instead of credit hours.
- Smart Sparrow, a new online-learning platform, gives educators the tools to design customized interactive content which allows for instant feedback and more personalized online learning for students.
- A group of higher education associations, accreditors, and foundations are attempting to define a shared framework for competencies and whether they are established at the course level or across a curriculum in order to take the next step into competency-based education.
- A report released by HEQCO indicates that Ontario's postsecondary education system is efficient and accessible, but there is a lack of consensus on the definition of quality. This has prompted the need to focus on using learning outcomes as quality indicators.
- WASC released a penultimate draft of their 2013 Handbook which includes a brief discussion of the DQP as a framework for institutions to convey the meaning of degrees.
- A new Florida bill would allow any individual, organization or institution to create courses and seek accreditation status from Florida officials. This has many faculty members concerned about the transfer of instruction and curriculum evaluation to commercial organizations.
- More Than a Major
- The Association of College and Research Libraries has selected 75 institutional teams to participate in the Assessment in Action program. These campus teams will develop and implement a project that examines the impact of a library on student success as well as contributions to assessment activities.
- Adaptive learning which uses forms of computer-aided instruction may have the potential to positively impact higher education by allowing the learner to adapt to the curriculum in more effectual ways.
- The California Assembly will be considering a bill later this month that would create a new university that will allow students to obtain knowledge from any source and pay a fee to take exams for credit.
- This author wonders if required assessment will stifle students' creativity and if it's possible to hand the task of formative assessment over to students in order to encourage independent thinking.
- Kansas State University is seeking an Assistant Director of Assessment
The Office of Assessment at Kansas State University invites applications for the position of Assistant Director of Assessment. The assistant will work with the Director on projects of the Office of Assessment, all of which have an overriding goal of the improvement of student learning at Kansas State University. For more information about the position and how to apply, please click here.
- Author points to the growing criticism of study abroad programs that assess student satisfaction rather than measurable learning and growth. A six-level, developmental classification system with related outcomes is discussed.
- As internationalization becomes more essential to postsecondary education, it is important to define global learning outcomes so institutions can measure and assess students in order to produce graduates that are prepared for a changing global environment.
- A new study published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) examined the benefits of participating in on campus activities and that students involved scored higher in time management and problem solving skills.
In Part 3 of this series, the author considers the benefits of service learning and if drawing connections between coursework and real-world context can open students' eyes to the applicability of learned skills and knowledge.
- Student Aid Awarded for Competencies
- According to a new study published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), using tablet devices in the classroom allows for instant instructor feedback and student collaboration and can possibly improve student performance and participation.
- The State University of New York System is moving to adopt prior-learning assessment programs along with competency-based education and MOOCs, all of which are aimed at helping students finish degrees in less time and for less money.
- The U.S. Department of Education's decision to award student aid based on measured competencies has the potential to reimagine the academic calendar and provide flexibility for students to improve learning and reduce costs.
- Laptop Browsing
- NILOA to Launch Second Annual Survey of Chief Academic Officers
In April 2013, NILOA will send a survey to all accredited two- and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. to gain a current picture of outcome assessment practices nationwide. The results will update findings from NILOA's first national survey conducted in 2009.
- Remedial Reboot
- HEQCO | New HEQCO Book Explores the Global Arena of Learning OutcomesA new book from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) presents an overview of global learning outcome initiatives. Included in the book is a section by Jillian Kinzie that focuses on measurement.
- Postsecondary Quality Assurance
- With the invention of MOOCs, instructors have to rely on peer grading, but this author wonders if the process is truly beneficial for students.
- Peer Review (Volume 14, Number 4) details how changes to the MCAT will focus on more broad integrative learning outcomes than specific course requirements.
- Competency-based education is growing in many states and increasingly focusing on addressing mastery of learning as opposed to seat time through assessing learning by direct assessment.
- An unexpected consequence of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, is that faculty members adapting their courses for an online format have begun to pay more attention to their teaching methods.
- The results from a survey of employers found that employers value degrees, but are interested in students who are capable of translating and applying academic knowledge to real world settings.
- A new study has found that standardized high school tests can be good predictors of student success at community colleges, but the study also identified an achievement gap that prompts the need to better understand the path between high school and community college.
- The College Board is planning to redesign the SAT in an effort to better prepare students to make a meaningful transition into postsecondary education by focusing on a core set of knowledge and skills essential to college success.
- Faculty members recognize that reforming teaching and learning to effectively engage students has become increasingly important, but difficulties arise in implementing the changes.
- The Graduate Management Admission Council announced a new mechanism to test the 'soft skills' of students looking to develop their strengths and improve weaknesses when applying to jobs.
- The 2013 Assessment Institute is currently accepting proposals for conference sessions. Please submit your proposals no later than March 29, 2013.
- Florida International University introduced a new global learning requirement that will give faculty an assessment matrix to evaluate students' global learning engagement and awareness.
In Part 2 of this series, the author explores how some students are highly successful at transferring applied learning from one class to another.
- Plans for Accreditation
- New Issue of Assessment Update is Available NowThe latest issue of Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practice in Higher Education for January/February 2013 is now available. Articles in this issue include Kristin Janke, Katherine Kelley, and Suzanne Solimann's "The Power of Many: Building Capacity for Assessment Through Cross Institutional Collaboration," Peter Ewell's "From the States," Tracey Anderson's "Building a Culture of Assessment in the Arts and Sciences," and Kevin Possin's "A Fatal Flaw in the Collegiate Learning Assessment Test."
- A number of Canadian academic libraries have become increasingly engaged in assessment of student learning and have launched a project that will measure information literary skills among students.
- Linn State Technical College is measuring students' job readiness and adding scores to their transcripts in hopes of offering employers a prediction of job performance.