National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment |

National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Providing Evidence of Student Learning:
A Transparency Framework


Gathering evidence of academic accomplishment – the knowledge, skills and competencies students gain as a result of their college experience – is a continuous process. It occurs at various levels and across many dimensions, and the findings are intended to enable institutions to make improvements, assess the impact of changes in academic programs and provide evidence of learning outcomes to those to whom they are accountable. The Transparency Framework addresses the question: How might these efforts be made more visible? One avenue adopted by many campuses is to share relevant information about student learning on the institutional website.

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) has developed a Transparency Framework to support institutions in sharing evidence of student learning on and off campus. The Framework is based on a review of institutional websites and identifies six key components of student learning assessment. Institutions may use the Framework to examine their institutional websites to gauge the extent to which evidence of student accomplishment is readily accessible and potentially useful and meaningful to the intended audience. Each section of the Framework suggests a component of student learning assessment that may be of interest to specific audiences and outlines opportunities to advance public understanding.

The Framework also incorporates basic premises about website communication. For instance, information placed on websites should be meaningful and understandable to multiple audiences. To effectively communicate with various audiences, the website should enable users to provide feedback or offer comments on the posted material. Just as making student learning outcomes more transparent is a work in progress, so is this Framework. As more institutions make their assessment efforts accessible and post meaningful evidence of student learning, we will update the Transparency Framework using experience from the field.

Read more about the development of the Transparency Framework here.


Please cite as: National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. (2011). Transparency Framework. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). Retrieved from:

"The framework is a tool that institutions can use to evaluate how well their websites are communicating learning outcomes assessment information to the intended audiences. Unlike association-branded templates or state-level accountability platforms that array student and institutional performance results on external sites (which makes comparisons possible), the Transparency Framework is a guide for individual institutions to examine and rethink how they are communicating what they consider to be relevant information via their websites."

George D. Kuh
They'll Love You Just the Way You Are: Tiptoeing Toward Transparency
AAC&U LEAP initiative blog