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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

NILOA Newsletters

We send out monthly newsletters about the work we are doing at NILOA. Sign up here to receive these newsletters.

Current issue: April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014

April 2014 

NILOA will host a webinar on April 23, 2014 with the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) on Tuning USA, which is a collaborative faculty-driven process that identifies what a student should know and be able to do in a chosen discipline when a degree is conferred.  Tuning USA is building momentum in the United States after Tuning Europe, founded in 1999, became an international phenomena in transforming the foundation of higher education overseas.  Register for the webinar here.

New NILOA Report

 Accreditation Report Cover   Institutional Assessment Practices Across Accreditation Regions

Nora Gannon-Slater, Stanley Ikenberry, Natasha Jankowski, & George Kuh

How are colleges and universities gathering and using evidence of student learning and how do these practices vary across accreditation regions?  This report, specifically prepared for a meeting of the heads of the regional accreditation agencies through the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) draws on the 2013 NILOA survey of provosts/chief academic officers at all regionally accredited undergraduate degree-granting, two- and four-year public, private, and for-profit institutions in the US about the assessment activities underway on their campuses and how these institutions were using assessment results.   Read more here.


Catalyst for Learning:
ePortfolio-based Outcomes Assessment


Laura Gambino, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
Bret Eynon, LaGuardia Community College

Higher education's use of ePortfolios in outcomes assessment is exploding, growing by 300% between 2009 and 2013 (Kuh, Jankowski, Ikenberry & Kinzie, 2014).  But challenges and questions remain: What does effective use of ePortfolio for outcomes assessment actually look like?  What ePortfolio-related strategies do successful campuses use to facilitate "closing the loop?"  How does one implement changes to practice and policy to improve student learning and success?  What difference can ePortfolio-based outcomes assessment make for an institution with regard to increased success and persistence rates, and improving the student learning experience?  There is a need for organized collections of proven practice including models and frameworks.  Read more…

 NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Indiana University Southeast's Institutional Research & Assessment website presents a detailed overview of the assessment process at IU Southeast.  The site includes brief summaries of assessment activities at the program level, as well as an overview of general education assessment.  Also included on the site are General Education Assessment Committee Reports, and the Assessment Overview page features a snapshot of where campus programs are in the assessment process.  The site also provides results of various student surveys, including NSSE reports.  Read more…

DQP Updates

DQP in Practice


Marshall University was one of 23 universities and colleges to test the DQP through the Higher Learning Commission's Open Pathways Quality Initiative.  The university tested the DQP through a process of mapping, revising, and assessing the level and extent of learning outcomes achievement at the baccalaureate and master's levels.  The project allowed Marshall University to improve academic quality and enhance its standards.  Preliminary findings from the focus group sessions revealed that the majority of DQP outcomes should be conveyed by the major or degree program.  Their final report was submitted to the Higher Learning Commission in June 2013.  Read more…



DQP Resources
The Higher Learning Commission released their final report on the Open Pathway Quality Initiative.  The two-year project was a collaboration of 23 colleges and universities to test the DQP.  Each institution proposed its own strategies for experimenting with some or all of the DQP's proposed outcomes.  All of the participating institutions indicated that their experience in the project was beneficial.      



We collect news items from a variety of sources related to learning outcomes assessment for our website. Listed below are some from the past month:

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.

2014 CHEA Award Winners
CHEA announced the 2014 winners of the Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes. 

Student Feedback Matters - and It Goes Beyond Grading
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. 

VFA: A National Effort Serving Local Needs
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 and provides a useful template for community colleges to report data and identify areas of needed improvement.

Students Can Transfer Knowledge if Taught How
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.

New Issue of The Toolbox
The latest issue of The Toolbox (Volume 12, Number 4) published by the National Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition is now available.  Articles in this issue focus on a new, creative way to challenge students in their critical thinking and writing.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

Here are conferences and workshops on learning outcomes assessment coming up in the next month:

April 18: Advancing a Massachusetts Culture of Assessment (AMCOA) - Annual Conference
Boxborough, MA.
*NILOA Assistant Director, Natasha Jankowski, will present Elements of Assignment Design: Points for Conversation.

April 23-25: 2014 WASC Academic Resource Conference
Los Angeles, CA.  The Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
*NILOA Senior Scholars, Pat Hutchings and Jillian Kinzie, will present on April 24 at 9:30am on Strong Assignments Make Great Assessments: A Project to Build an Online Library.

April 28-30: 2014 ANNY Spring Workshops and Conference
Rochester, NY.  Assessment Network of New York & Rochester Institute of Technology.

April 30-May 2: Assessment, Teaching and Learning Conference
Vancouver, WA. Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. 

May 1-3: ACCJC DQPP Conference - Sharing Effective Practices for Degree-Level Student Learning Outcomes
San Diego, CA.  Accrediting Commission for The Association for the Study of Higher Education.
*NILOA Assistant Director, Natasha Jankowski, will present The Power of Shared Experience for Advancing Excellence.

May 2: Call for Proposals - 2014 ASHE Annual Conference
Washington, D.C.  The Association for the Study of Higher Education.

May 2: Call for Proposals - Aspirations for Student Learning Symposium
Virginia Tech. 

March 2014 

This month, NILOA is pleased to to present two Viewpoints.  The first is about the proposed Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) by Nicholas Hillman, as a follow up to last month's featured Google discussion board on the topic. 

The second Viewpoint by Peter Quigley, Patricia Shea, and Robert Turner describes WICHE's Interstate Passport Initiative.


College ratings: What lessons can we learn from other sectors?


Nicholas Hillman
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Last summer, President Obama directed the U.S. Department of Education to develop a federal college ratings system.  A key goal is to provide students and families with information for selecting "schools that provide the best value."  Proponents believe this is a long-overdue reform and one that will ultimately improve student success.  With ratings, students ostensibly will be able to make better educational choices since they will have information about how accessible and affordable a college might be, and whether it provides a quality educaiton.  But what makes for a "quality" education is difficult to measure in any meaningful way.  Read more…


The Interstate Passport: A New Framework for Transfer


Peter Quigley, Patricia Shea, and Robert Turner
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

The Interstate Passport Initiative is designed to address two important issues that support the interests of increasingly mobile students: streamlining their transfer pathways to degree completion, and ensuring the quality of their educational experience.  Equally important, the Passport does it in a way unencumbered by special interests and undue complexity.  Today's students are caught in a transfer system designed for an earlier era when very few students changed institutions.  A recent study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse tells us that more than 33 percent of students transfer and of those, approximately 27 percent cross state lines.  While a number of states have improved the intrastate transfer experience, especially for associate degree students, there is still work to do for students transferring across state lines and for students transferring at an earlier point in their studies when we know they are most likely to stop out.  Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

LaGuardia Community College's Outcomes Assessment website provides direction for faculty and assessment professionals on how to use ePortfolios to carry out assessment plans.  The site includes an About page, with a history of assessment activities at LaGuardia; definitions of and rubrics for LaGuardia's Core Competencies; and a diagram of LaGuardia's Core Competency Assessment Cycle.  The site also features a Program Review page, which outlines the use of ePortfolios at LaGuardia, and presents examples of program review guidelines, timelines, and competency statements.  Read more…

DQP Updates

New NILOA DQP Case Study Available

 Case Study Cover   University System of Georgia - Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College

Jillian Kinzie, NILOA

NILOA selected Georgia State University as a case study site because of its exemplary work as the institutional leader in one of the three university-system projects funded by the American Association for State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).  The goal of the AASCU project was to test the feasibility of using the DQP in the association's continuing efforts to help transform campuses into learning-centered institutions.  Read more here.

DQP Resources

Curriculum Mapping

Institutions may utilize a process of aligning their learning outcomes, courses, assignments or programs through a process known as curriculum mapping.  Resources on curriculum mapping can be found here.



We collect news items from a variety of sources related to learning outcomes assessment for our website. Listed below are some from the past month:

Tough Love for Accreditation
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.

Accreditation and Autonomy
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.

Colleges are Tested by Push to Prove Graduate's Career Success
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.

Rejecting the Standardized Test
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.

'Competency' and Residential Colleges
With the latest trend of competency-based education, residential liberal arts colleges are aiming to prove why learning in a residential setting is better.

This College Asks Alumni to Choose Their Own Way to Define Its Value
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.

College Uses Test Data to Show Value
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 results gives prospective students and families valuable information on the school's performance.

What I Learned in College

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.

New Issue of Assessment Update is Available Now
The 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."

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

Here are conferences and workshops on learning outcomes assessment coming up in the next month:

March 21: Association of College & Research Libraries: Assessment in Action Team Applications Due
The deadline has been extended to submit applications to March 21, 2014.

March 21: NEEAN Dialogues in Learning and Assessment
Amherst, MA.  New England Educational Assessment Network

March 21: OAIRP Spring 2014 Conference
Kent, OH.  Ohio Association for Institutional Research and Planning
NILOA Assistant Director, Natasha Jankowski, will be presenting the keynote address on "The Role of IR in Assessing Student Learning: Managing Shifting Priorities" at 9:30am.

March 27-29: Diversity, Learning, and Student Success: Policy, Practice, Privilege
Chicago, IL.  Association of American Colleges and Universities

April 1: Proposal Due - 2014 HEDS Annual Conference
Portland, ME.  Proposals are due for the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium Conference.   

April 3-7: 2014 AERA Annual Meeting
Philadelphia, PA.  American Educational Research Association
*NILOA staff will present papers on the following days: "Critical Conversations and Divergent Dialogues: The Expanding Roles of the Assessment Practitioner" on Friday, April 4 at 8:15am; "Legal Trends in State Law: Assessment Apocalypse for Higher Education?" on Sunday, April 6 at 8:15am; and "The Role of High-Impact Practices in Student Learning Outcomes" on Sunday, April 6 at 4:05pm.

April 10-14: 2014 HLC Annual Conference
Chicago, IL.  Higher Learning Commission  

February 2014 

This month's newsletter features a draft of DQP 2.0.  The draft is open for feedback and comments until March 15, 2014.  Please click here for more information and to read the draft.  

Postsecondary Institution Ratings System

Earlier this month, the proposed Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) was the topic of a Google discussion board hosted by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.  Participants explored how such industries as healthcare and city managment use data to illustrate how a ratings system might work for postsecondary institutions and whether such a system would be helpful to consumers.  Many of the postings questioned the value of a ratings system and expressed concerns about the quality of presently available data and that PIRS could become a tool for advertising instead of influencing positive institutional change.  Others noted that a ratings system for hospitals became a stimulus for organizational change and, therefore, could possibly have a similar effect in higher education.  Some participants noted that a ratings system might be a step in the right direction for providing information to consumers, but that the information may not be helpful if students and families do not know how to interpret it.  To learn more about the discussion, see the statement by IHEP or join the Google group here.  



Guidelines for Being 
Strategic about Assessment


Larry A. Braskamp and Mark E. Engberg
University Chicago

In the 1960's when the first major push for formal evaluation in education occurred the goal was to make decision making more rational and objective.  The movement stressed quantitative evidence and reflected modernism.  "Outcomes," often couched in terms of measurable behavorial objectives, were all the rage at the time.  In this Viewpoint, however, we argue that constructive assessment must incorporate three important guiding themes: inclusiveness, "sitting beside" and usefulness - themes which influenced and structured our guidelines for assessing student learning.  Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Miami University's Center for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching, and University Assessment (CELTUA) website provides a wealth of information on assessment activities at Miami University.  The site includes assessment success stories, in which Miami faculty briefly address their experiences developing and assessing student learning outcomes within their respective departments.  The Student Success Plan page features links to Miami's general education learning outcomes and descriptions of the projects intended to address these outcomes, as well as a list of learning outcomes within individual majors and information on Miami's assessment of student engagement.  Read more…

DQP Updates

CIC/DQP Consortium 

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) released its final project report of the CIC/DQP Consortium, Defining Outcomes, Demonstrating Quality: The CIC Degree Qualifications Profile Consortium. The report draws on the final project reports submitted by the twenty-five participating member institutions which examined ways in which the DQP can be used to facilitate student learning.  

SACS COC/DQP Project Report

In collaboration with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), 22 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) were invited to "test-drive" the DQP to map their curriculum, particularly in mathematics and English, and identify weaknesses and strengths in teaching and learning.  Their final report, Making the Case for the Application of the Lumina Foundation's Degree Qualifications Profile, is available now.



We collect news items from a variety of sources related to learning outcomes assessment for our website. Listed below are some from the past month:

Pressure on the Provosts: 2014 Survey of Chief Academic Officers
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 inform decision making.

Going All In on Proficiencies
The University of Maine at Presque Isle is basing its academic programs on proficiency-based curriculums instead of the grading system.  University officials stated that moving beyond grades will create a more personalized, self-paced approach to learning.

Applications Now Available for ACRL Assessment in Action Learning Community
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.

Variations on a Theme
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.

Colleges are Measuring Learning, but Not Because of Students.  Is That a Problem?
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.

Peer Review
Peer Review (Volume 15, Number 4) focuses on senior capstone courses, projects, and examples of best practices.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

Here are conferences and workshops on learning outcomes assessment coming up in the next month:

February 21: 18th Annual Assessment Fair for Illinois Community Colleges: Assessing the Student Experience
Palos Hill, IL.  Moraine Valley Community College.

February 27 - March 1: General Education and Assessment: Disruptions, Innovations, and Opportunities
Portland, OR.  AAC&U.
*NILOA will host two sessions at this meeting:
1. General Education Outcomes and NILOA's Transparency Framework, Friday, Feb. 28 at 3:15pm
2. The Degree Qualifications Profile: A Framework for Assessing General Education, Saturday, March 1 at 9:15am

March 3-5 : Connections 2014 Conference - Closing the Loop: More Than a Metaphor
Blacksburg, VA.  Virginia Tech.  

March 4: Applications Due for AAC&U 2014 Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success
Nashville, TN.

March 7: Association of College & Research Libraries: Assessment in Action Team Applications Due

March 7-8: RosEvaluation Conference 2014
Terre Haute, IN.  Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

March 14: Applications Due for AAC&U 2014 Institute on Integrative Learning and the Departments
Fullerton, CA.

January 2014 

This month's newsletter features NILOA's national report on the status of student learning outcomes assessment in the U.S. and a Viewpoint by Paul Gaston about the relationship between the Common Core Standards and the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP). Also, please note that NILOA will host three sessions at the upcoming AAC&U 2014 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  More information including dates and times is included below in the Upcoming Conferences and Programs section. Please consider attending these sessions!  

New NILOA Report: The State of Learning Outcomes Assessment in the U.S.

Survey Cover  
George D. Kuh, Natasha Jankowski, Stanley O. Ikenberry, & Jillian Kinzie
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
Assessment of student learning continues to climb higher on the national agenda.  There are multiple reasons for this, including persistent prods from external bodies such as accrediting and governmental entities and institutions recognizing they need more and better evidence of student accomplishment.  What do we know about what colleges and universities in the U.S. do to gather and use evidence about what undergraduate students learn during college?  Provosts (or their designates) from 1,202 regionally accredited, undergraduate-degree-granting, two- and four-year, public, private, and for-profit institutions in the U.S. helped us answer this question by responding to a national survey conducted by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment in the spring and summer of 2013.  Read more...



An "Uncommon" View of the Common Core

Paul L. Gaston
Kent State University

Last fall, David T. Conley and I produced a white paper comparing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for pre-college education with college-level standards proposed by the Foundation's Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP).  In the paper, we propose "a path" for connecting K-12 and higher education. There is much to commend in both the CCSS and the DQP.  They share the perspective that more intentional teaching and learning, through which all involved are more aware of and intent on achieving clearly defined educational outcomes, will produce better results.  But we also found that each initiative lacks awareness of the other.  And that is a problem.  Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Kansas State University's Office of Assessment website features interactive infographics outlining Kansas State's senior survey and NSSE data.  The infographics allow site visitors to sort and view survey data, and the site provides detailed information on Kansas State's annual conference, Institute for Student Learning Assessment, including links to past conference programs and slides.  Read more…

DQP Updates

New NILOA Case Study Available

 Case Study Cover   DQP Case Study: Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California

Pat Hutchings
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

NILOA selected Point Loma Nazarene University as an appropriate site for a case study because its engagement with the Degree Qualifications Profile began early and has been sustained over a number of years, involved key players in a variety of roles, focused on a range of academic fields from across the institution and moved beyond conversations about outcomes and curricular alignment to significant assessment activity.  PLNU's work with the DQP is now prompting conversations about how to more effectively assess learning in ways that are comparable across programs, and about how to continue to improve the experience of Point Loma students.  Read more here.

Assignment Design Charrette

The NILOA team has reviewed applications and selected participants for the upcoming Assignment Design Charrette in Portland, Oregon.  The team received more applications than anticipated for this second meeting.  The Charrette will be held on March 1, and the group will share assignments that are linked to DQP outcomes. 




We collect news items from a variety of sources related to learning outcomes assessment for our website. Listed below are some from the past month:

It Ain't What I Say
Judith Shapiro, president of the Teagle Foundation, discusses the language of "competency" and how it might not effectively address the goal of creating quality undergraduate education. Rather, the term "proficiency" might be more suitable.

Agreement Seeks to Smooth Interstate Transfers Using Learning Outcomes
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.

Badging From Within
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. 

AAC&U Liberal Education
The latest issue of Liberal Education features articles examining the phenomenon of MOOCs and if they are revolutionizing higher education.  Other articles focus on competency-based education and whether it will replace seat time.

Full-Time, Structured Program at CUNY Yields More Community-College Grads
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.

Itsnotacademic Blog | Outcomes-based Learning: Articulating the Fruits of a Liberal Arts Education
This author argues that an outcome-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.

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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

Here are conferences and workshops on learning outcomes assessment coming up in the next month:

January 22-25: AAC&U 2014 Annual Meeting
Washington, DC.  Association of American Colleges and Universities

*NILOA will host three sessions at this meeting related to its work with the DQP:
1. The Degree Qualifications Profile: Updates From the Field and DQP 2.0, Thursday, Jan. 23 at 10:30am

2. What Provosts Say About Student Learning Outcomes Assessment, Friday, Jan. 24 at 1:30pm
3. What the DQP Looks Like on the Ground: National Trends and Campus Examples, Friday, Jan. 24 at 4:15pm

February 13: Proposal Due - ANNY Spring 2014 Conference
Rochester, NY.  Proposals are due for the Assessment Network of New York Spring Conference.   

February 14: Applications Due for AAC&U 2014 Institute on General Education and Assessment
Burlington, VT.  Applications are due for campus teams to participate in the AAC&U Institute on General Education and Assessment.

February 16-18: 14th Annual Texas A&M Assessment Conference
College Station, TX. 


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NILOA can be the connective tissue that links together and advances the work of various groups and organizations interested in using student learning outcomes to improve higher education.

George Mehaffy

George L. Mehaffy
Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)