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ERIC Number: ED535127
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 3
Perspectives from Campus Leaders on the Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment: NILOA Focus Group Summary 2009-2010
Kinzie, Jillian
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
The assessment of student learning outcomes is of keen interest to the federal government, accrediting bodies, and education associations and policymakers. Colleges and universities have been under increased pressured to demonstrate accountability for student learning and be more transparent about dimensions of educational quality. Although institutions are responding to these demands, it is not altogether clear where learning outcomes assessment ranks in importance on institutions' action agenda, or the extent to which colleges and universities are using assessment results to make real improvements in the quality of student learning. The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) is a multiyear effort to understand and further the student learning outcomes agenda nationally. One of NILOA's primary activities is tracking the journey of higher education institutions responding to the challenge of outcomes assessment. To this end, NILOA conducts surveys, focus groups, and case studies to learn more about what colleges and universities are doing to assess student learning and how they are using the results. This paper highlights lessons from four focus group sessions with campus leaders--presidents, provosts, academic deans and directors of institutional research from a variety of two- and four-year institutions--regarding their perspectives on the state of learning assessment practices on their campuses. The perceptions are considered in relation to findings from the 2009 NILOA survey report, "More Than You Think, Less Than We Need: Learning Outcomes Assessment in Higher Education." The perspectives of campus leaders provide first-hand accounts of a range of student learning outcomes activities on campus and help contextualize results from the 2009 NILOA survey. Focus group findings illustrate the extent to which assessment has taken hold on campus, explicate the role of accreditation and the responsibility of faculty in student learning outcomes assessment, and showcase how assessment has been furthered on campuses. The institutional examples of innovative assessment practices, particularly those that involve faculty in meaningful ways and lead to institutional improvements, and the promising ways that assessment has been woven into administrative structures and processes, are instructive for advancing understanding of what is happening on the ground at colleges and universities. The paper concludes by articulating questions and challenges raised by campus leaders including reservations about identifying and using assessment measures, issues of transparency and communicating results, and concerns about financing assessment. As the demand for greater emphasis on student learning outcomes assessment intensifies, it is important to document both the successes and challenges associated with campus efforts to respond. Campus leaders provide an important perspective on what is most likely to help assessment efforts grow and deepen in institutions. (Contains 4 footnotes.)
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. 340 Education Building MC 708, 1310 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Tel: 217-244-2155; Fax: 217-244-5632; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Carnegie Corporation of New York; Lumina Foundation for Education; Teagle Foundation
Authoring Institution: National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment