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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Assignment Charrette Toolkit

NILOA has been working to foster the development and use of intentionally designed assignments through faculty-driven collaborative peer review processes. Our goal in this work has been to promote an embedded, faculty-driven approach to assessment—through the assignments that faculty require of their students—that is integral to the teaching and learning process.

Through the Assignment Library initiative, NILOA has organized and sponsored a series of assignment-design “charrettes” (a term borrowed from architecture education denoting a collaborative design process) for faculty from around the country. This model has been field tested with 26 different assignment design events involving over 1,000 faculty and staff including the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Quality Student Learning, institutions exploring transfer focused on student learning, AAC&U VALUE rubric users, and student affairs staff exploring co-curricular assignments. What we learned from facilitating these events as well as information gathered from institutions hosting their own assignment conversations make up the resources presented in this toolkit.

The toolkit provides tools, materials, and resources that can be borrowed and adapted to local and regional circumstances. We hope you find them useful and we invite your feedback on how to add to and improve them.

Pleace cite the overall Toolkit as: National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (2018, February). The assignment charrette toolkit. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

Making the Case for Assignment Charrettes: Part one of the assignment charrette toolkit introduces the NILOA assignment initiative, presents the case for why assignments, discusses the importance of alignment, and presents elements of effective assignments.

Resources for Conducting an Assignment Charrette: Part two of the assignment charrette toolkit provides a complete set of resources to assist in conducting an assignment charrette, addressing planning a charrette, invitation emails, agendas and timing, guidelines for facilitators and unfacilitated charrettes, and feedback and evaluation forms including follow-up surveys.

Charrette Handouts: Part three of the assignment charrette toolkit includes a zip file of handouts commonly utilized with faculty during an assignment design charrette including handouts on the process, feedback forms, readings, and additional resources for reflection.

Institutional Examples: Part four of the assignment charrette toolkit provides a variety of examples of institutions and disciplinary association engagement with and modification of assignment design conversations.

This example comes from Washington State University.

Institutional Example: University of Hawai'i Manoa

Institutional Example: American Historical Association

Institutional Example: Palo Alto College

Institutional Example: Wicked Reflection Workshop from faculty at Roanoke College and Salt Lake Community College.

Institutional Example: Taking Assignment Design Online from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Institutional Example: Assignment Design Charrette for Public Health: A Faculty Development Workshop from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).

Additional Resources on Assignments: Part five of the assignment charrette toolkit outlines a variety of additional resources including the Transparency in Learning and Teaching project, scholarly readings, and curated collections of assignment materials.

Clio in the Classroom: Clio is a free website and mobile application that can be used as a tool to create and share humanities assignments to foster students' research, refine writing, and increase their ability to evaluate data sources.


Belle Wheelan

To prepare your campus for assignment design conversations, please use Karen Ford’s “Let’s Face It” activity.