National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment |

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: November 2014
October 2014
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June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
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November 2014 Newsletter

This issue of the NILOA Newsletter features several papers and announcements about the important role of faculty in assessment work. The first is a special NILOA Report, Assignment Design Activity on Your Campus: Lessons from NILOA's Assignment Library Initiative (see below the related announcement of the next assignment charrette.)


The second faculty-related piece is an occasional paper by Timothy Reese Cain on Assessment & Academic Freedom: In Concert, not Conflict.


The third feature is the announcement of NILOA's third assignment charrette that 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. To apply or for more information about this assignment-design initiative, please click here.


Finally, please join us for a webinar on December 17, 2014, Faculty and Assignments: The Heart of Assessment, hosted by Pat Hutchings, Natasha A. Jankowski, and Peter Ewell.  The webinar will focus on NILOA’s Assignment Library initiative and its relevance and utility for faculty. To learn more and register for the webinar, click here.

NILOA Report

NILOA Report  

Catalyzing Assignment Design Activity on Your Campus: Lessons from NILOA’s Assignment Library Initiative

Pat Hutchings, Natasha A. Jankowski, & Peter T. Ewell
Foreword by George Kuh

The authors discuss lessons learned from NILOA's Assignment Library Initiative, offer various approaches to increase inter- and intra-campus collaboration on assignment design, and provide six suggestions on how to do so successfully. Assignments yield direct evidence of authentic student accomplishment in close to real time, help identify students’ areas of strength and weakness, and can provide a cumulative record to assure constituents of what students have learned and can do. Read more...

NILOA Occasional Paper

Timothy Reese Cain
In this paper, Timothy Reese Cain considers the relationship between learning outcomes assessment and academic freedom. He argues that faculty control of the curriculum and effective shared governance set the stage for assessment to support and build on ongoing faculty efforts, while protecting their historic and essential academic freedom rights.  Read more...

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Marshall University’s Office of Assessment and Program Review provides viewers access to the university’s assessment resources and reviews. Multiple links describe the university’s assessment efforts, including its University Assessment Committee and related documents, Learning Outcomes and rubrics, and assessment reports/reviews. In addition, website visitors can explore the university’s Assessment Day information and presentations, as well as information on alumni outcomes and survey reports.  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:

A Conversation Starter
Inside Higher Ed's Doug 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. 

AAC&U Liberal Education
The latest issue of Liberal Education focuses on the leadership role that faculty members can take to promote curricular change.

Launching New Institutions: Solving the Chicken-or-Egg Problem in American Higher Education
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.

Lessons Learned about Competency-Based Education
Western Governors University (WGU)’s new website, CBEInfo, provides information on the development process for competency-based education programs, and encourages contributions from faculty members and decision-makers. 

Faculty Work, Student Success
The College of New Jersey revised its liberal arts curriculum to be more data-driven and feature high-impact teaching practices. To do so, the number of courses faculty teach per semester was reduced from 4 to 3 in order to create more time for student-faculty research endeavors.

“Deeper Learning” Improves Student Outcomes, But What Is It?
This article explores the concept of “deeper learning,” which combines academic knowledge/skills with communication, collaboration, learning management skills, and assessment. The aim of this is to truly prepare students for college and their careers.

Now, Everything Has a Learning Outcome
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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

November 18: Webinar: Achieving CAEP & NCATE Accreditation
Dr. Matthijs Koopmans, Associate Professor and Assessment Coordinator at Mercy College.

November 19-22: 2014 ASHE Annual Conference
Washington, DC. The Association for the Study of Higher Education.
*Jillian Kinzie will present The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment: Implications for Policy and the Accountability Agenda in Higher Education. 
November 19: Forum: Learning Outcomes & Assessment in the Fraser Valley
Abbotsford, BC, Canada. University of the Fraser Valley.

November 23-24: 2014 Higher Education Summitt
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Sponsored by Colleges Ontario.

December 11: Twitter Chat- “Assessment of Student Learning Out-comes and Performance Based Funding: A Match Made In Heaven or a Horror Story?”
12:00pm - 4:00pm. Association for Assessment of Learning in Higher Education.
December 17: NILOA Webinar: Faculty and Assignments: The Heart of Assessment
Hosted by Pat Hutchings, Natasha A. Jankowski, and Peter Ewell.


October 2014

The annual Assessment Institute will be held on October 19-21 in Indianapolis. It is the nation's oldest and largest event focused on outcomes assessment in higher education. The program provides opportunities for individuals and campus teams new to outcomes assessment to acquire foundational knowledge about the field, and for those interested in outcomes assessment at any level to establish networks that serve as sources for support and expertise beyond the dates of the Institute. The substantive quality of the meeting is well known, attracting about 1,000 people each year. Please join us for NILOA's track at this year's Institute. For more information about the Assessment Institute, please click here.


The DQP website is live following a successful launch on October 8, 2014, at an event hosted by Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis.  You can view the entire set of day-long activities here. Print copies of the DQP can be ordered here.


The DQP site features examples of case studies, resources for colleges and universities on the DQP and Tuning, information on Coaches, and electronic versions of the DQP, among many other resources. We welcome any and all feedback. We especially invite institutions that have used the DQP or Tuning to submit a summary of their activities to date by filling out an Instructional Activity Report. 

2014 Assessment Institute


Highlights about NILOA's Track

The 2014 Assessment Institute provides opportunities for practitioners and professionals, both new and experienced, to acquire and share knowledge on outcomes assessment. Topics that will be addressed include how to improve and leverage assessment results, creating and sustaining a culture of evidence, and international outcomes assessment. Work from various institutions will be featured, including Louisiana State University, St. Olaf College, Duke University, Butler University, and California State University. George Kuh and Peter Ewell will contribute to the Plenary Keynote Panel following what promises to be a provocative presentation by Ralf Wolff, formerly from WASC, intended to encourage serious conversations about new approaches to assessment and accreditation.
Pat Hutchings, Natasha Jankowski, and Peter Ewell will offer a Pre-Institute Session workshop "Assignment Design: The Ins and Outs" (Oct 19, 1:30-4:30pm) aimed at better positioning assessment practitioners to help facilitate conversations around assignment design, curriculum mapping, and/or engaging multiple stakeholders in the process. An assignment charrette model that campuses can utilize to engage in assignment design conversations will be outlined.
Jo Beld will deliver NILOA’s track keynote on "Making Assessment Matter: How Not to Let Your Data Die on the Vine" (Oct 20, 10:15-11:15am). She will discuss what it means to use assessment data and why it is often difficult to do so effectively. In addition, she will suggest assessment approaches that enrich faculty work and student learning, and are also attentive to institutional organization and culture.
Jillian Kinzie and Natasha Jankowski will present "Using Assessment Results to Improve Student Learning: A View from the Field" (Oct 20, 12:45-1:45pm). They will explore various principles of effective use of assessment results to improve student learning, and will outline the ways in which institutions have made appropriate changes in response to assessment results; as well as the impacts of these changes on student performance.
Pat Hutchings, Giuliana Miolo, and Ellen Latorraca will co-present "Scaffolding Student Learning Through Assignment Design" (Oct 20, 2:00-3:00pm), which will describe how a faculty member and an academic librarian collaborated to embed instructional activities within a semester-long research assignment, as well as how students’ information literacy was assessed. The team will present the assessment results, and explore how the results were used to modify learning and improve student learning.

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Butler University's Office of Institutional Research & Assessment website offers a host of resources regarding their student learning outcome assessment efforts. The website includes information regarding Academic Assessment, Administrative Assessment, which includes Administrative Assessment Reports, in addition to information regarding their University Assessment Committee. This website is a centralized location for the university’s assessment efforts.  Read more…

DQP Updates


To advance and accelerate campus initiatives to enhance student learning, NILOA has assembled a group of DQP/Tuning Coaches from various institutions across the country who know first-hand the utility and value of DQP/Tuning. Coaches can help with local-level implementation opportunities and challenges, as well as encourage and support institutions at various stages of the DQP/Tuning work. Coaches are available for a one-day campus visit at no cost to the host institution. Coaches will be paired with the institution based on a match of interests, intended outcomes, and expertise. If your institution is interested please contact NILOA by the November 15, 2014, priority deadline.  





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:

Tested and Ready: Introducing the Degree Qualifications Profile
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.

The Current Ecosystem of Learning Management Systems in Higher Education: Student, Faculty, and IT Perspectives
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.

Aligning General Education and the Major at Utah State University
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.

Innovations in Apprenticeship
Innovations, 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.

Say No to 'Checklist' Accountability
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.

How to Make Students' Campus Jobs More Meaningful
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.

Engaging Students Requires a Renewed Focus on Teaching
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.

Thinking Chair
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).

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

October 19-21: 2014 Assessment Institute
Indianapolis IN. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
*NILOA will have a track at the Assessment Institute.

October 20: Call for Proposals- 2015 Air Forum Conference
Denver, CO. Proposals are due Monday, October 20, 2014.

October 22-24: NERA's 45th Annual Conference
Trumbull, CT. Northeastern Educational Research Association
October 22: West Texas Assessment Conference
Lubbock, TX. Texas Tech University and Angelo State University

October 27: Call for Proposals - 2015 HETL-PsTL Conference
Minneapolis, MN. Proposals are due Monday, October 27, 2014.

November 2-3: Aspirations for Student Learning Symposium
Blacksburg, VA. Virginia Tech
November 6-8: Transforming STEM Higher Education
Atlanta, GA. Association of American Colleges & Universities
November 7: 18th Annual NEEAN  Fall Forum
Worcester, MA. New England Educational Assessment Network
*Natasha Jankowski and Jillian Kinzie will present "Using Evidence to Enhance Student Learning: Examples of Good Assessment Practice" (11:30am-12:30pm).
November 12-14: 2014 CAEL International Conference
Chicago, IL. Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

September 2014 

On October 8, Lumina is hosting an event in Indianapolis to officially release the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP).  Originally introduced in beta form in 2011, the DQP along with its companion discipline-based Tuning process are ready for large-scale implementation.  The launch event will provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss how to advance use of the DQP/Tuning at campuses across the country.  A webcast of the event will be available to view here.

With support from Lumina, NILOA over the next few years will provide encouragement, support, and resources to help campuses broaden and deepen their work to increase student attainment through the use of DQP/Tuning and related activities.

Finally, it is with great pleasure and admiration that we acknowledge Natasha Jankowski's exceptional contributions to NILOA's mission and programs with a well-earned promotion to associate director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.  Please join us in congratulating her!


Assessment - More than Numbers


Sheri H. Barrett, Johnson County Community College

From my first forays into assessment work, I heard colleagues assert that assessing student learning is the responsibility of faculty with the goal of improving student outcomes.  I agree wholeheartedly with the statement, but then encountered examples of assessment processes that seemed to be driven more by the need to satisfy accreditors, state agencies, or other external bodies, all of which seemed ill-suited to foster faculty interest and involvement in assessment.  While I believe that Institutional Research or Assessment offices are colleagues that partner with faculty to assist, that actual work of assessment belongs to faculty and processes of assessment within institutions should be constructed in a way to ensure faculty ownership and use of assessment results.  Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Sinclair Community College Assessment of Student Learning website offers various resources and historical documents regarding assessment at Sinclair.  With links to all master syllabi which include learning outcomes, a history of assessment from 1986 at the college, guiding principles and policies, as well as program documents including outcome reports, Sinclair's website provides various avenues to learn about assessment on the campus.  Read more…

DQP Updates

DQP in Practice


Northeastern University College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to making high quality academic programs accessible to working adults and individuals from local, national, and international communities. CPS first engaged with the DQP in 2013, and has used it in the development of program-level student learning outcomes accross the college. Lead faculty members were encouraged by CPS's Academic Quality Assurance office to develop outcomes for each of the five domains, which were instrumental in their ability to ensure that all of the competencies the college wants CPS graduates to master were addressed.  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:

Online University Skips Class to be More Accessible
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.

A Case for a Competency-Based Degree

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. For example, Purdue University is set to create a cross-disciplinary competency-based bachelor’s degree (as reported by Inside Higher Ed).

New Directions for Higher Education: Q&A with CAEL's Tate on Prior Learning, Competency-Based 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 can impact student completion rates, and what it may take in order for CBE to be widely implemented.

Let's Ask More of Our Students- and of Ourselves
in their new book, 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.

Innovative Direct Assessment Programs Show Promise
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.

The MOOC Completion Conundrum: Can 'Born Digital' Fix Online Education?
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.

New Issue of Assessment Update is Available Now
The 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?”

The Hidden Curriculum
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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

September 18-20: 2014 Annual CREA Conference
Oak Brook, IL. Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment

September 19: Call for Proposals - Higher Learning Commission 2015 Annual Conference
Chicago, IL.  Proposals due Friday, September 19, 2014.

September 19: Webinar - IR, Assessment & the IRB
Axiom Education

October 10: Call for Proposals - 15th Annual Texas A&M Assessment Conference
College Station, TX.  Proposals due Friday, October 10, 2014.

October 15: Call for Proposals - 2015 Academic Resource Conference
Oakland, CA.  Proposals due Wednesday, October 15, 2014.
October 16-18: AAC&U 2014 Global Learning in College
Minneapolis, MN.  Association of American Colleges and Universities
October 19-21: 2014 Assessment Institute
Indianapolis, IN.  Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
*NILOA will have a track at the Assessment Institute.  Stay tuned for details.

August 2014 


Please welcome our new NILOA staff!  Katie Schultz will be the new NILOA Project Manager, Erick Montenegro, Terry Vaughn, III, Suhas Muralidhar, and Sharanya Bathey will be joining the NILOA staff as Research Analysts, and Gabriel Bermea will be an intern.  We are pleased to have them on the NILOA team!

NILOA Occasional Paper

DQP Cover  
Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey
Foreword by Maria Maisto
The faculty today is dramatically different from 30 years ago.  It is largely non-tenure-track; faculty work has been unbundled into teaching-, research-, or service-only roles, and faculty may be provided little institutional support and have minimal connection to the institution and enterprise.  While this change has been occuring over several decades, leaders on many college campuses have not responded to this shift by modifying policies and practices so that faculty can effectively execute their work.  The absence of policies and practices aligned with the realities faced by this new majority faculty has significant implications for how faculty can be involved in student learning outcomes assessment.  This paper explores the potential for non-tenure-track faculty to meaningfully contribute to student learning outcomes assessment and outlines policies and practices that can facilitate such contributions.  Read more...



Challenges and Opportunities in Assessing the Capstone Experience in Australia


Nicolette Lee, Victoria University

Over the past few years in Australia, there has been a growing interest in assessing and benchmarking the quality of undergraduate programs and student learning outcomes.  At the same time, concerns have been expressed about graduate employability.  This has led to a sector-wide focus on the potential of capstone curriculum as a tool for enhancing final year student experience and transition to post-graduate life.  However, while final year projects are required in some disciplines such as engineering, capstones have not been a common feature of the Australian undergraduate degree.  This situtation is rapidly changing, as many universities are implementing capstones in an effort to respond to the graduate employability and quality assessment imperatives.  Read more…

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

SUNY University at Albany's Student Success Assessment website offers a collection of infographics designed to highlight assessment of various student affairs offices and programs.  The infographics present data from a number of campus resources, including Career Services, Campus Safety, Parents Council, Student Involvement and Leadership, and Conflict Resolution and Civic Responsibility.  Also included are infographics on the effectiveness of attending campus events on classroom success, getting involved in campus organizations, and connecting with faculty.  Read more…

DQP Updates

DQP in Practice


As a participant in the Associate Degree Cohort of ACCJC's Degree Qualifications Profile Project, Kapi'olani Community College looked at how the DQP could be used to inform a potential revision of the College's general education student learning outcomes as well as how it might influence student learning outcomes at the course level.  Kapi'olani Community College is one of seven community colleges in the University of Hawaii system.  The College first engaged with the DQP in 2011 when working in collaboration with its sister community colleges to develop a system-wide Associate in Arts in Hawaiian Studies degree.  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:

Assessment Professional 2014 Survey
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 take approximately 8-10 minutes to complete.

Accreditation's Alchemy Hour: Riding the Wave of Innovation
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.

AAC&U 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. 

New Issue of The Toolbox
The latest issue of the 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.

Liberal Arts Colleges to Collaborate with Mellon Money
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.

University of Michigan Seeks an Assessment and Evaluation Postdoctoral Research Associate
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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

September 5: Oregon Assessment in Student Affairs Conference
Eugene, OR. University of Oregon with Portland State University and Oregon State University.

September 8: Call for Proposals - AAC&U 2015 Conference on Diversity, Learning, and Student Success
San Diego, CA.  Proposals due Monday, September 8, 2014.

September 8-9: 7th Annual HEIR Conference
Oxford, United Kingdom.  Higher Education Institutional Research Network
*NILOA Associate Director, Natasha Jankowski, will present on Tuesday, September 9 at 2:35pm on Decisions about student learning: To what do we turn?

September 10-12: Myths & Movements: Reimagining Higher Education Assessment
Philadelphia, PA.  Drexel University
*NILOA Associate Director, Natasha Jankowski, will present on Friday, September 12 at 8:45am on Strategic Points of Entry Towards a Culture of Meaningful Assessment.

July 2014 

Please visit the NILOA website to view 15 mini webinars from the Degree Qualifications Profile Project (DQPP) of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Participating ACCJC colleges completed projects during the 2013-2014 academic year to examine one or more aspects of their degree-level learning outcomes practice using the DQP framework.  The webinars showcase how each institution used the DQP to identify core learning and competencies in degrees and programs.

James Madison University (JMU) has prepared an Assessment Day video that highlights the value of assessment to the institution and to students.  The video will be played at every Assessment Day at JMU and viewed by every participant.


Making Assessment Count


Margaret T. Bailey, Point Loma Nazarene University

Most universities have highly developed processes for using assessment data to inform faculty how well students are achieving the program's desired learning objectives, as well as identifying those areas needing improvement.  However, this key evidence is too often not incorporated in other institutional decision-making processes such as program review, budgeting, program development, and strategic planning.  PLNU's Assessment and Program Review committee decided to tackle this issue by linking assessment findings directly into the program review process.  The program review findings, including assessment, are then embedded in the program review Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and used to inform budgeting and strategic planning.  Read more…

 NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

Long Beach City College's Outcomes Assessment website offers an array of resources intended to guide visitors through each step of an Outcomes Assessment Loop.  The site includes instructions for developing effective student learning outcomes, recommendations for assessing SLOs at the course and program level, tips for collecting and organizing assessment data, and guidance on analyzing and using assessment results.  Also included are resources for creating curriculum maps and approaching institution-level and service unit assessment.  Read more…

DQP Updates

New NILOA Case Study Available

 Case Study Cover   DQP Case Study: Kansas City Kansas Community College

Pat Hutchings, NILOA

NILOA selected Kansas City Kansas Community College for a case study because of its progress in creating an alternative system for documenting student achievement of Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) proficiencies.  Its interactive curriculum mapping database allows faculty to enter information about individual student performance on each learning outcome and competency in their courses, which is then indexed against 28 university-wide learning outcomes forumulated around the DQP with reports returned to faculty and programs for review and action.  Read more 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:

AAC&U Releases Statement on Providing Better Evidence on College Learning and Completion
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 Research & Practice in Assessment
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."

The Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet Report

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. 

New Guidelines for What Medical Students Should Learn
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.

Top 10 Books on Teaching
The 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.

NILOA: Visiting Project Manager Position
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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

July 18-23: AAC&U PKAL Summer Leadership Institute for STEM Faculty: Institute 1
Wallingford, PA.

July 22: Webinar: Foundations & Frameworks for Successful Competency-Based Programs
Sponsored by Pearson Learning Solutions and hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

July 25-30: AAC&U PKAL Summer Leadership Institute for STEM Faculty: Institute 2
Crestone, CO.

July 28-31: 2014 AAEBL - Engaged Learning and ePortfolios: Advancing Learning-Centered Cultures in a Multimodal Age
Boston, MA. Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning. 

June 2014 

Click here to view and listen to the webinar hosted by LiveText on June 4, 2014 on the findings from the 2013 NILOA survey of chief academic officers.  Natasha Jankowski, Assistant Director of NILOA, discussed the survey and findings of assessment activities underway at institutions.

NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

North Dakota State University's student affairs assessment website features videos, reports, and infographics designed to communicate NDSU's student affairs assessment data to a variety of audiences.  On the assessment resources page, site visitors can view a short video introducing student affairs assessment activities at NDSU, as well as links to video tutorials on using Excel to analyze data and create charts, creating and using rubrics, and writing surveys.  On the Reports by Department and Program page, users will find succinct student learning and persistence reports, several of which include infographics intended to communicate student affairs assessment findings to students.  Read more…

DQP Updates

DQP in Practice


Academy of Art University (AAU) is the largest regionally-accredited, private art and design school in the nation, offering undergraduate degree programs both on campus in San Francisco and online.  AAU began working with the DQP in 2011.  One product from our efforts is a web-based exhibit of student work that documents how students in 8 different degree programs across a range of disciplines (including fine art, environmental design, product design, communication-based design and entertainment-driven design) meet the DQP outcomes.  Sustained engagement with the DQP has resulted in agreement about degree-level outcomes that cross disciplinary boundaries, as well as transparent visual examples of how students demonstrate these outcomes.  Read more…



DQP Resources

Assessing Contributions of the Co-curriculum

From case studies of institutions connecting student affairs and academic affairs in instructive and meaningful ways to handbooks on assessing student learning and development within student affairs, a variety of resources can be found here to connect and harness the findings from co-curricular assessments for institutional improvement.



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:

WICHE to Spin Off Analytics Project
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 learning at on-ground and competency-based institutions.

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.

Veterans' new battle: Getting credit for what they already know
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. 

A New Community College Keeps Students on Track With Structure
Guttman Community College created a first-year program aimed at improving student engagement and persistence 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.

New Issue of Assessment Update is Available Now
The 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?"

Faculty Tips for First-Gen Students
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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

June 17: Reinvent the University for the Whole Person: The Next Metrics
*NILOA Director, George Kuh, will participate as a featured panelist.

June 17-19: 2014 National Benchmarking Conference
Overland Park, KS.  National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute.
*Using research from NILOA, Joseph Hoey, will present the opening keynote Assessment in Proprietary Institutions and Community Colleges on Tuesday, June 17 at 1:15pm.

June 17-21: AAC&U Summer Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success
Nashville, TN.

June 19-21: 2014 NASPA Assessment and Persistence Conference
San Antonio, TX.  Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
*NILOA Senior Scholar, Jillian Kinzie, will present Exploring Provosts' Views of Campus-Wide Assessment: Generating Ideas for Student Affairs Educators Roles and Practice on Friday, June 20 at 3:30pm.

June 27: Call for Proposals - NEEAN Fall Forum 2014
Worcester, MA.  New England Educational Assessment Network.

July 7-11: SHEEO Annual Meeting
Boise, ID.  State Higher Education Executive Officers Association 

July 9-13: AAC&U Summer Institute on Integrative Learning and the Departments
Fullerton, CA. 

July 14: Call for Proposals - AAC&U 2015 Annual Meeting
Washington, DC. 

July 14: Call for Proposals - AAC&U 2015 General Education Conference
Kansas City, MO.

May 2014 

NILOA will participate in the LiveText 2014 Best Practices Webinar Series on June 4, 2014.  Natasha Jankowski, Assistant Director of NILOA, will discuss and present findings from the 2013 NILOA survey of chief academic officers about assessment activities underway at institutions.  To learn more and register for the webinar, click here.


Some Thoughts on Assessing Intercultural Competence


Darla K. Deardorff, Duke University

Intercultural competence is emerging as an important competency, not only within the United States but also around the world.  It is especially relevant to employability, the increasing diversity of the world in which we live, and the pressing global challenges confronting us as humans.  While other terms represent intercultural competence - global citizenship, cultural intelligence, global learning, and so on - they all infer the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to interact successfully with others from different backgrounds.  The focus on intercultural competence is growing out of the internationalization movement which is becoming more central in many colleges and universities, and is driven by economic and social factors.  Intercultural competence is often stated as one of the main goals of study abroad experiencees, as well as of internationalized curricula.  In the U.S., intercultural competence is seen as key to global workforce development and foundational to 21st century skills.  Read more…

 NILOA Updates

NILOA's Featured Website

The University of Rhode Island's Student Learning, Outcomes Assessment and Accreditation website provides a wealth of assessment information and supporting documents.  The site presents student learning outcomes and materials for program assessment at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including downloadable reporting forms and rubrics for undergraduate and graduate programs. Also included are resources for creating and using curriculum maps and the site's Academic Program Assessment Report Summaries allow website visitors to look across departments to view summaries of program assessment reports including evidence sources, involvement in various groups interpreting the evidence, and changes made from discussions.  Read more…

DQP Updates

DQP in Practice


Berry College focused on further improving and developing opportunities for High Impact Engagement practices while also developing a "Berry DQP" that emphasizes the genuinely unique aspects of a Berry education.  Working groups selected learning outcomes from the DQP Applied Learning and Civic Learning categories that seemed to be commonly applicable to academic affairs, the student work program, student activities, and Berry's Bonner program.  Several academic departments used the Applied Learning outcome to evaluate student research projects (at multiple curricular levels), and the student work program used the Applied Learning outcome to evaluate student work enterprises.  Read more…



DQP Resources

Click here to view the recorded webinar on Tuning USA hosted by NILOA with the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC).  Tuning USA 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. 



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:

HEQCO | Large-scale Learning Outcomes Assessments Should Focus on Student Needs to Increase Participation
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.

Midwestern Higher Education Compact Tuning Monograph
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.

Peer Review
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. 

Educators Point to a 'Crisis of Mediocre Teaching'
Educator 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 Now
The 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.”

Valencia College seeks an Assistant Director of Learning Assessment
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.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

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

May 20-22: Developing and Managing Competency-Based Education
San Antonio, TX.

May 21: 10th Annual North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Assessment Conference
Greensboro, NC.
*NILOA will present two sessions at this meeting on Wednesday, May 21:
Closing the Loop: Using Assessment Results to Enhance Student Learning at 10am and 2pm and A Closer Look at the Results from the NILOA 2013 Survey of Chief Academic Officers at 12pm.

May 27-30: 2014 AIR Annual Forum
Orlando, FL.  Association for Institutional Research.
*NILOA will present three sessions at this meeting:
1. Degree Qualifications Profile: A Primer for IR and Assessment Professionals on Wedesday, May 28, at 9:30am.
2. NILOA's Provost Survey on Assessment Practices: Implications for IR on Wednesday, May 28, at 3pm.
3. Can You Hear Me Now? Approaches to Transparent Online Communication on Wednesday, May 28 at 3pm.

June 2-4: 4th AALHE Annual Assessment Conference
Albuquerque, NM.  Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education.
*NILOA will present two sessions at this meeting:
1. User Error 404: Transparent Assessment Data Not Found on Monday, June 2, at 1:45pm.
2. Effective Assessment Design: More than Mapping to Outcomes on Tuesday, June 3, at 10:30am.

June 3-7: AAC&U Summer Institute on General Education and Assessment
Burlington, VT. 

June 12-13: 10th Annual Summer Academic Assessment Institute
Keene, NH.  New England Educational Assessment Network.

June 15-18: 2014 HEDS Annual Conference
Portland, ME.  Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.

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)