ERIC Number: ED499718
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan-9
How Should Colleges Assess and Improve Student Learning? Employers' Views on the Accountability Challenge
Association of American Colleges and Universities (NJ1)
From November 8 to December 12, 2007, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, interviewed 301 employers whose companies have at least 25 employees and report that 25% or more of their new hires hold at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year college. Employers are satisfied that the majority of college graduates who apply for positions at their companies possess a range of skills that prepare them for success in entry-level positions, but they are notably less confident that graduates are prepared for advancement or promotion. While recent graduates are seen to demonstrate solid skills in the areas of teamwork, ethical judgment, and intercultural skills, employers are less convinced of their preparedness in terms of global knowledge, self-direction, and writing. Employers' impressions of graduates' preparedness in 12 areas of learning suggest room for improvement across the board, however. When it comes to the assessment practices that employers trust to indicate a graduate's level of knowledge and potential to succeed in the job world, employers dismiss tests of general content knowledge in favor of assessments of real-world and applied-learning approaches. Multiple-choice tests specifically are seen as ineffective. On the other hand, assessments that employers hold in high regard include evaluations of supervised internships, community-based projects, and comprehensive senior projects. Employers' emphasis on integrative, applied learning is reflected in their recommendations to colleges and universities about how to assess student learning in college. Again, multiple-choice testing ranks lowest among the options presented, just below an institutional score that shows how a college compares to other colleges in advancing critical thinking skills. Faculty-evaluated internships and community-learning experiences emerge on top. Employers also endorse individual student essay tests, electronic portfolios of student work, and comprehensive senior projects as valuable tools both for students to enhance their knowledge and develop important real-world skills, as well as for employers to evaluate graduates' readiness for the workplace.
Descriptors: Student Evaluation, Evaluation Methods, Accountability, Knowledge Level, Essay Tests, Multiple Choice Tests, College Graduates, Thinking Skills, Promotion (Occupational), Writing Skills, Employer Attitudes, Interviews, Job Skills, Portfolios (Background Materials), Service Learning, Student Projects, Education Work Relationship, Employment Potential, Higher Education
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: Hart (Peter D.) Research Associates, Inc., Washington, DC.