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ERIC Number: ED550511
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 26
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
Catalyzing Assignment Design Activity on Your Campus: Lessons from NILOA's Assignment Library Initiative
Hutchings, Pat; Jankowski, Natasha A.; Ewell, Peter T.
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) first released by Lumina Foundation in 2011 and revised in 2014 sets forth a vision of what students should know and be able to do at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. It also carries an important message about assessment. Unlike the popular model of assessment as a sampling of average student performance, the DQP requires "all" graduates to master all of the described proficiencies as a condition of being awarded a degree. The most natural and efficient contexts for achieving this are the projects, papers, and tasks that faculty regularly assign in the courses they teach (Ewell, 2013). In short, the DQP puts assignments, and the faculty work of creating them, at the center of student assessment. With this in mind, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) set out in the fall of 2013, with Lumina funding, to create an online "Assignment Library" of faculty-designed and peer-reviewed assignments linked to DQP proficiencies. The aim was both to build on their work and to provide models and exemplars to other campuses that were attracted to the focus on assignment design. The NILOA's Assignment Library initiative has sparked a high level of broad-based interest among faculty on campuses embracing the DQP, assessment leaders and professionals who see assignments as a route to greater faculty engagement, and of faculty developers who recognize the pedagogical power of more intentionally designed assignments linked to clear outcomes. NILOA has received numerous requests to share what is being learned through the Assignment Library initiative. Campuses are eager to have models they can use to foster and support serious work on assignment design by faculty and others--for instance student affairs staff and librarians--who create, monitor, and evaluate the tasks and activities that shape student learning. Meeting that demand is the purpose of this report. The report begins with a discussion of the main arguments for focusing on assignments, and then turns to the features of assignments intended to serve as assessments (since some assignments, after all, are intended more as learning activities and not as occasions for judgment of students' abilities in relation to specific learning outcomes). The final section of the report describes different approaches for bringing people together on campus (and sometimes across campuses) to work on assignment design, and ends with six suggestions for doing so successfully. Two appendices contain: (1) Desirable Characteristics of Assignments, Generated by Faculty Participants in the NILOA Assignment Library Initiative; and (2) NILOA Assignment-Design Charrette Feedback Sheet.
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: Tests/Questionnaires; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment