Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Learning


In the past decade, discussion of assessment and “accountability” in higher education has grown increasingly charged. Legislators, federal agencies, and accreditation bodies have pushed colleges to report on the quality of the education they provide. For many faculty and staff, assessment is associated with standardized testing, something done for others that has (at best) no value for their own practice.

But assessment can be entirely different, a meaningful way for educators to deepen our understanding of our craft. Using ePortfolio can help campuses ground assessment in the authentic work of students and faculty. And the design principles of inquiry, reflection, and integration help campuses make assessment more meaningful, even transformative, spurring improvement at every level of the learning experience: students and faculty members, programs, and the entire institution.

The Outcomes Assessment sector of the Catalyst site explores the ways some C2L campuses use ePortfolio in outcomes assessment to advance learning at every level of campus life. The C2L teams that identified themselves as most successful in this regard demonstrate the role of the Inquiry, Reflection, and Integration (C2L Design Principles) in ePortfolio-based outcomes assessment:

    • Framing assessment as an inquiry into student learning, as Boston University and IUPUI do, highlights its scholarly nature, making it more engaging and rewarding
    • Incorporating reflection, as Guttman Community College does, helps transform assessment into an individual and collective learning opportunity, and moves the focus from findings to recommendations for change.
    • In an assessment context, integration involves “closing the loop,” applying the recommendations emerging from reflective assessment to the active process of changing pedagogy and practice, curriculum, and even institutional structure. Stories from Northeastern, LaGuardia and Three Rivers Community College all demonstrate ways to advance this crucial step.

Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Learning

Pursuing these strategies, some C2L campuses use ePortfolio to make student learning visible for college-wide inquiry and reflection, helping institutions take important steps towards becoming learning colleges. Other campuses are in the middle of building their assessment work. And a third group is in the initial phases of developing their assessment processes. This Catalyst essay analyzes campus stories across these three categories: Transforming, Developing, and Emerging.

Click here for the Catalyst Essay, Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Learning.

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