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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

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Current issue: January 2015


January 2015 Newsletter

This month, NILOA is pleased to present a Viewpoint from Stan Ikenberry and George Kuh about Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education, a new book from NILOA staff and senior scholars. 

In addition, we feature an Assessment in Practice by Keri Nunn-Ellison, Larraine Kapka, Jackie Myers, Heidi McGrew, Janeil Bernheisel, and Jared Cutler about the Curriculum & Assessment (C&A) Track at Sinclair Community College.



Using Evidence to Make a Difference


Stanley O. Ikenberry and George D. Kuh
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Gathering performance data is certainly a worthwhile activity, but what ultimately matters most is using the evidence. The capacity of American colleges and universities to assess student learning outcomes has expanded significantly over the last two decades. During the same period, however, the actual use of assessment results to improve student success and institutional performance lagged. External demands for accountability stimulated more assessment activity, but they also inadvertently nurtured a culture of compliance. The process of assessment became a prime marker of “compliance.” Simply doing assessment was seen as sufficient. If assessment is to be consequential to the future of American higher education, assessment practice must be driven by genuine needs and challenges faced by campuses and the students they serve. Read more…

 Assessment in Practice

Practice What You Preach!


Keri Nunn-Ellison, Larraine Kapka, Jackie Myers, Heidi McGrew, Janeil Bernheisel, and Jared Cutler
Sinclair Community College 

The Curriculum & Assessment (C&A) Track at Sinclair Community College is a six-session track collaborative effort between the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Divisional Assessment Coordinators (DAC) led by the Assistant Provost for Accreditation and Assessment. The DACs, who are faculty representing each college division, provide cross-discipline expertise in best practices in curriculum and assessment. The result was a professional development offering created for faculty, by faculty assessment experts in the college. Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

University of Connecticut’s Assessment website provides various assessment resources that encourage and support meaningful assessment efforts. Visitors to the site are provided links regarding why assessment is important, what assessments are, and the relationship between assessments and accreditation. The website also provides information about the components of conducting assessments, the steps for conducting assessments, and how to actually do assessments. Read more…




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:

Quality Collaborative to Assess Quantitative Reasoning: Adapting the LEAP VALUE Rubric and the DQP 
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 those of the DQP and LEAP. 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.

To Help Low-Income College Students Graduate, Show Them the Value of What They’re Learning
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.

Interested in Third Year of “Assessment in Action"?
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.

What About Learning?
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.

Educating Minds Online
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.

The Role of Assessment Instruments in a Competency-Based System 
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.

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 using the post number 0406394.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

January 16: Call for Proposals- 2015 AALHE Annual Conference
Lexington, KY. Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education.

January 20-22: 2015 HETL Utah Conference
Orem, UT.  International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association. 

January 21-24: AAC&U 2015 Annual Meeting: 100th Anniversary
Washington, DC.  Association of American Colleges and Universities.
*Degree Qualifications Profile and Tuning USA: Partners in Advancing Student Learning, Natasha Jankowski, George Kuh, David Marshall, and Pat Hutchings; 10:30-11:45

January 24: Global Digital Positioning Systems: E-Portfolios in a Digital Age
Washington, DC.  Association of American Colleges and Universities.

January 29: Webinar: Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education
1:00-2:00pm CST.  Jillian Kinzie and Natasha Jankowski from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.   

February 13: Call for Applications: 2015 AAC&U's Institute on General Education and Assessment
Edmond, OK.  University of Central Oklahoma.  

February 19-21: AAC&U 2015 General Education and Assessment Network for Academic Renewal Conference
Kansas City, MO.  Association of American Colleges and Universities.   


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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)