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Five colleges, universities named as 2018 Excellence in Assessment Designees

by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment / Aug 16, 2018

lease join the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) in recognizing five exemplary colleges and universities that were named Excellence in Assessment designees today. These institutions join two prior classes for a total of 20 colleges and universities recognized for their commitment to the comprehensive assessment of student learning outcomes as a means to drive internal improvement and advance student success at the institution-level. The Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation is the first national designation of its kind, spotlighting institutions that successfully integrate assessment practices across campus, providing evidence of student learning, and using assessment results to guide institutional decision-making and improve student performance.

The 2018 Excellence in Assessment designees are:

  • Bowie State University
  • Harper College
  • Mississippi State University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The ability of a campus to clearly and convincingly communicate the learning outcomes of all their graduates, regardless of program of study, is paramount to the success of our students, institutions, and larger national economic and competitive priorities. Policymakers and external stakeholders are increasingly questioning the value of higher education experiences as a whole, focusing on labor market outcomes to hold certain types of programs or majors up as preferred. Institutions and higher education have struggled to push back on these claims, citing the complexity of evaluating student learning across varied and disparate programs in easily comparable ways.

Despite these challenges, the EIA designees are successfully designing and implementing campus-wide assessment systems that provide evidence of the learning of all students. These systems are horizontally and vertically integrated to encompass learning both in and outside of the classroom, and are validated by participation and evaluation of external stakeholders, including alumni, employers, and schools their students subsequently attend for additional study. Building intentionally integrated, layered systems that rest on the foundational work of faculty in the classroom, campuses are able to provide deep and rich evidence of students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities.

EIA designees reinforce that there is not one “right way” to undertake assessment of student learning. The EIA provides a nationally recognized and respected means to rebut the claims that we are disorganized and muddled. While still respecting the diversity of what good assessment looks like in practice, the EIA designations provide a signal for external audiences to look to. As part of the application process, colleges and universities were asked not just to detail the specific assessment activities they’ve undertaken, but also the reason why such efforts are a priority for them. The designees needed to demonstrate how aligned processes, building from classroom-based assessment, foster a coherent, collaborative approach to assessing student learning.

The EIA Designations are directly linked to NILOA’s Transparency Framework.  The application process for the designation includes a rigorous and systematic self-study. Accredited, degree-granting institutions working to implement and sustain comprehensive use of assessment of student learning outcomes are eligible to receive the designations. More information on the designation can be found on the EIA Designation web page.

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a co-sponsor of the EIA designation alongside the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) and the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) - a public college and university transparency initiative led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).