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NILOA June 2017 Newsletter

This month’s Newsletter features a NILOA Viewpoint remembering Sister Joel Read of Alverno College. Reflections from Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, and Russ Edgerton focus on some of her many contributions to Alverno College and quality in American higher education. Next is the update on NILOA in the Field, a new Assessment in Practice, The University of North Carolina System’s Adoption of the NILOA Transparency Framework, and a Featured Website from Finger Lakes Community College. Finally, the newsletter concludes with relevant News items and information on Upcoming Conferences and Programs.

NILOA Viewpoint

NILOA Remembers Assessment Pioneer
Sister Joel Read of Alverno College
Peter Ewell, Pat Hutchings, & Russ Edgerton

NILOA joins with colleagues around the world to mourn the recent passing of Sister Joel Read, president emeritus of Alverno College, and to acknowledge her visionary, unflinching leadership in advancing student learning and outcomes assessment. It is an honor to feature recollections from three influential thought leaders and assessment champions about the life and times of Sister Joel.  The first two are by NILOA Senior Scholars Peter Ewell and Pat Hutchings.  The third is from Russ Edgerton, president emeritus of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE). Peter, Pat and Russ knew Sister Joel well, and we encourage you to read their reflections about some of her many contributions to Alverno College and collegiate quality in American higher education. Read more…

NILOA In the Field

In May, NILOA held its annual National Advisory Panel Meeting, and NILOA staff participated in a Pathways for Adult Success (PAS) planning meeting, the 2017 Assessment, Teaching & Learning Conference, the Annual Teaching Excellence Conference in Toronto, the Learning System Network Convening, and the Association for Institutional Research 2017 Forum. Read more...

New Assessment in Practice

The University of North Carolina System’s Adoption
of the NILOA Transparency Framework
Christine Robinson, John G. Frederick, Elise Demeter, Jodi Pettazzoni, Muktha Jost, Erin McNelis, and Michelle Soler

The NILOA Transparency Framework serves as a guide for its participating institutions to tell their stories of student learning and success. This model serves the purpose of meeting transparency demands in understandable language and creates opportunities for faculty to reflect on the curriculum and instructional practices. We describe the process the UNC System institutions used to adopt the NILOA Transparency Framework, including how we addressed individual needs while maintaining consistent publishing guidelines and how we navigated issues around handling potentially sensitive or identifiable information. This process has allowed the UNC System to responsibly address the policy calls for greater accountability and transparency for student learning outcomes. Read more...

NILOA Updates

NILOA Featured Website

Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) Assessment Office website provides valuable content and resources regarding the role that assessment plays at the institution. The website describes the way assessment works and explores its usefulness to the academic process. In an effort to showcase its educational value, the website shows an array of values that the institution hopes its students will acquire. These very same values form the core of FLCC’s learning outcomes assessment. Read more...


NILOA Provost Survey
NILOA is currently administering its third National Provost Survey, and we'd greatly appreciate your school's participation. The aim of the study is to gain a clearer picture of the current state of assessing student learning in the United States. Please encourage your provost to complete the questionnaire which takes about 10-15 minutes. Contact Dr. Jillian Kinzie at for a direct link to the survey.

What One University Likes About a Standardized Test of Student Learning
The use of standardized tests to measure students' gains in areas such as critical thinking is still quite contentious. However, Greg Heilenman, vice-provost and professor at the University of New Mexico, believes that standardized tests, specifically the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+), can accurately gauge student learning.

‘Differentiated’ Accreditation
A new white paper argues for transforming the current accreditation system into a more “management-based” approach which emphasizes smaller, more frequent reviews and continuous improvement.

New Edition of the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching
The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching is a peer-reviewed journal which aims to increase student learning through highlighting effective teaching, classroom experiences, and assessment practices.

Don’t Tear Down Accreditation. Build on What’s Right About It
Barbara Brittingham, chair of the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions and president of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, offers a response to a recent essay on the failures of accreditation. In this response, she implores readers to focus on the strengths of the current accreditation system so that we may build upon them.

Stuck in the Assessment Swamp?
Kevin Gannon, faculty member at Grand View University, argues that while it may be easy to gather and report snapshots of student “achievement” as defined by superficial outcomes set by administrators, these rarely demonstrate any meaningful learning gains students have made while in college. The author further argues that the various problems with assessment can be righted when faculty members reclaim assessment and lead the charge.

The VALUE Institute: Student Learning Outcomes at Its Best
AAC&U and Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research are launching the VALUE Institute later this year, and are still accepting applications from interested institutions. The VALUE Institute assists colleges and universities implement the VALUE Rubrics to assess, document, and report student learning outcomes in order to improve student success.

Four Questions for Re-Authorization
As Congress works to re-authorize the Higher Education Act, Barbara Brittingham poses four questions to accreditors for consideration. Included are questions about quality assurance and experimental sites in an attempt to explore new accreditation mechanisms.

Development of Analytic Rubrics for Competency Assessment
Researchers from the University of Toronto developed rubrics to assess various competencies, such as communication and teamwork, that are adaptable enough to meet the individual needs of their instructors.

Upcoming Conferences and Programs

June 21-24. 2017 AAC&U Institute on Project-Based Learning
Worcester, MA. Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

June 24-27. 2017 AAC&U Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success
Boston, MA. Boston University.

June 28-29. 2017 AHE Conference
Manchester, UK. Assessment in Higher Education.
**Thursday, June 29, 10:10 – 11:00 am. Natasha A. Jankowski, NILOA director, and David Marshall, NILOA senior scholar, will present Moving Towards a Learning System: Implications of Assessment for Learning.

June 30. Call for Applications - Assessment by Design (ABD) workshop
Overland Park, KS. Johnson County Community College.

July 10-12. 2017 LiveText Assessment & Collaboration Conference
Chicago, IL. LiveText. 
**Monday, July 10, 3:00 – 3:45 pm. Natasha A. Jankowski, NILOA director, will present Fostering a Learning System: Intentionality and Student Learning.
**Wednesday, July 12, 9:15 – 10:30 am. Peter Ewell, NILOA senior scholar, will deliver the Keynote address Having It Both Ways: Ameliorating the Tension Between Accountability and Improvement.

July 11-14. 2017 AAC&U Institute on Integrative Learning and Signature Work
Chicago, IL. Loyola University Chicago. 

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