Learning Outcomes: Are We Telling What We Know?

July 15, 2010

A new report from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) shows that colleges and universities are doing more to assess learning than they are disclosing on their websites.

On his Head Count blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Eric Hoover summarizes the report’s recommendations as follows: “Colleges should publish information
about learning outcomes, including examples and resources, on various parts of
their Web sites, and update such information regularly; explain the results of
such assessments in plain terms; and make the information easier to navigate.”

At Earlham we are a work in progress on this.  We do a great deal about assessment, and we are putting a great deal of what we learn on our website.  You can find this information on our Fact Book here.

But we don’t make it very easy to find or navigate, and we don’t really do anything to explain such assessments in plain terms.  We mean to do better. In January, I published an opinion piece in Inside Higher Education, “Going Public,” proposing the colleges and universities produce public learning audits as part of their accreditation summarizing what they know about student learning at their institution.  That’s what we’re working on at Earlham: a public learning audit written in lay language that we will make easy to find.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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