ERIC Number: EJ1031370
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Reference Count: N/A
Transparency in Student Learning Assessment: Can Accreditation Standards Make a Difference?
Krzykowski, Linda; Kinser, Kevin
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v46 n3 p67-73 2014
With the cost of higher education steadily increasing, many people are wondering what, if anything, students are learning on college campuses. In this environment, colleges are facing pressure to make information about what their students learn available to a range of stakeholders, including students and their parents, policymakers, and the general public. As questions about student learning have gained prominence in the national conversation, accreditation agencies have been pushed to respond. Over the last quarter century, they have developed policies addressing assessment and institutional effectiveness. All regional accreditors now require member institutions to define their learning goals and assess the learning of their students. They expect institutions to share these data with relevant stakeholders and use them as part of their continuous-improvement processes. However, research has shown that student learning assessment information is hard to find even for individual institutions. The National Institute of Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) surveyed chief academic officers and subsequently reviewed institutional websites to determine what student learning assessment information could be found within five clicks of the homepage. They found that much less information was readily available on websites than had been indicated by the survey. In the study described herein, the authors looked at the only place institutions are "required" to discuss these practices: in their reaccreditation self-study reports. What do institutions claim about their transparency regarding student learning in their formal responses to accreditation standards? Overall, the answer is that higher education lacks what is known in the business and public-policy literature as an "effective information-transparency policy" regarding student learning, but that accreditors' standards do make a difference to institutions' degree of transparency. A list of resources is included.
Descriptors: Educational Assessment, Accreditation (Institutions), Higher Education, Disclosure, Colleges, Standards, Stakeholders, School Surveys, Web Sites, School Effectiveness, Accountability, Academic Achievement, Institutional Characteristics, Educational Policy, Public Officials
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A