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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

NILOA In the Field

Select NILOA news reports listed below. For additional NILOA Newsletters, please see the NILOA Newsletters.


March 2017

This month, NILOA staff attended the Learning Improvement Summit, the Assessment Network of New York 5th Annual Conference, and the Higher Learning Commission Annual Conference.

The Learning Improvement Summit, April 2-4, 2017, took place in Washington, DC. The meeting, Breaking New Ground: The Role of Assessment in Higher Education Learning Improvement, was co-hosted by the Center for Assessment & Research Studies at James Madison University and Center of Inquiry at Wabash College. In attendance were NILOA Senior Scholars Dr. Peter Ewell, Dr. Jillian Kinzie, Dr. Pat Hutchings, and via virtual means, NILOA director, Dr. Natasha Jankowski. Dr. Ewell helped set the stage for the meeting, providing a background on the assessment movement and the use of results, Drs. Kinzie and Jankowski shared their perspectives on a panel with other assessment scholars. Dr. Hutchings helped provide closing comments, reflecting on the meeting themes and possibilities for future work. “The summit focused on a theme that has been central to NILOA’s work – shifting the focus of assessment from meeting accountability demands to emphasizing student learning as the goal”, Dr. Hutchings remarked. Participants included leading assessment thought leaders from throughout the country and abroad.

Objectives of the meeting, as outlined in the meeting materials were to empower the higher education community by moving the assessment needle beyond meeting accountability demands to emphasizing student learning as the goal; develop or refine working definitions of learning improvement that include the role of assessment at the university program level; develop a community of, and dialogue among, higher education professionals focused on assessment’s role in promoting evidence of student learning at the program level; discuss and address issues, such as how to embed learning improvement efforts into institutional/organizational cultures; and strategize about how to most effectively disseminate learning improvement efforts to the broader higher education community, so that all can benefit. Dr. Jankowski stated, “Use of assessment results is a place where higher education continually struggles and the collective wisdom of the assessment experts and scholars in attendance helped to provide some framing around what can be done to help.”

The Assessment Network of New York’s (ANNY) 5th Annual Conference took place in Hyde Park, New York from April 5-7. Formed in 2010, ANNY’s mission is to “advance the quality assessment of institutional effectiveness and to enhance the success of institutions of higher education and their students in New York State.” Members are exposed to best practices and emerging trends and serve as a network of assessment professionals, working together to facilitate collaborative learning. Dr. Natasha Jankowski was honored to participate in this year’s conference themed, Recipes for Sustainable Assessment, by providing the opening keynote, ‘Mixing it All Together: Recipes for Inclusion’, focused on bring different perspectives on assessment practice together including measurement, compliance, and student-centered learning. For effective, meaningful, and sustainable assessment that fosters student learning, Dr. Jankowski shared with the group how three perspectives of assessment practice are needed elements for inclusive assessment focused on meeting the needs of our learners and internal/external audiences.

The Higher Learning Commission’s Annual Conference took place in Chicago from March 31-April 4. The theme of the conference was Navigating the Future and NILOA Senior Scholar Dr. David Marshall and NILOA director Dr. Natasha Jankowski presented a workshop applying the learning system paradigm, outlined in their forthcoming book, to curriculum mapping. The workshop, ‘Meaningful Mapping: Aligning Learning Experience to Enhance Student Learning’, provided a reframing of mapping and means to integrate efforts across and throughout an institution to provide increased coherence for students. Please find PowerPoint presentation available here: Meaningful Mapping: Aligning Learning Experiences to Enhance Student Learning.

Dr. Jankowski also served as moderator for the Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation panel, Lessons from the Field, where three of the EIA inaugural designees shared their campus assessment experience along with their EIA application process. Mr. Jeff Grann from Capella University, Dr. Mo Bischof from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ms. Julia Williams from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology composed the panel. Information on each of the EIA designee institutions can be found here. Please find PowerPoint presentation available here: Excellence in Assessment Designation: Lessons from the Field.

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"The complex, diverse learning goals, of postsecondary education do not justify a passive approach to student achievement. It is heartening to see state policy and institutional leaders working together to collect evidence of student learning and pursue continuous improvement."

Paul Lingenfelter

Paul E. Lingenfelter
President Emeritus
State Higher Education Executive Officers