Improving Quality in American Higher EducationLearning Outcomes and Assessments for the 21st Century
An ambitious, comprehensive reimagining of 21st century higher education Improving Quality in American Higher Education outlines the fundamental concepts and competencies society demands from today's college graduates, and provides a vision of the future for students, faculty, and administrators. Based on a national, multidisciplinary effort to define and measure learning outcomes—the Measuring College Learning project—this book identifies 'essential concepts and competencies' for six disciplines. These essential concepts and competencies represent efforts towards articulating a consensus among faculty in biology, business, communication, economics, history, and sociology—disciplines that account for nearly 40 percent of undergraduate majors in the United States. Contributions from thought leaders in higher education, including Ira Katznelson, George Kuh, and Carol Geary Schneider, offer expert perspectives and persuasive arguments for the need for greater clarity, intentionality, and quality in U.S. higher education. College faculty are our best resource for improving the quality of undergraduate education. This book offers a path forward based on faculty perspectives nationwide: Clarify program structure and aims Articulate high-quality learning goals Rigorously measure student progress Prioritize higher order competencies and disciplinarily grounded conceptual understandings A culmination of over two years of efforts by faculty and association leaders from six disciplines, this book distills the national conversation into a delineated set of fundamental ideas and practices, and advocates for the development and use of rigorous assessment tools that are valued by faculty, students, and society. Improving Quality in American Higher Education brings faculty voices to the fore of the conversation and offers an insightful look at the state of higher education, and a realistic strategy for better serving our students.
Acknowledgments About the Editors About the Contributors Foreword Chapter 1 Defining and Assessing Learning in Higher Education Josipa Roksa, Richard Arum, and Amanda Cook Chapter 2 Measuring College Learning in History Lendol Calder and Tracy Steffes Chapter 3 Measuring College Learning in Economics Sam Allgood and Amanda Bayer Chapter 4 Measuring College Learning in Sociology Susan J. Ferguson and William Carbonaro Chapter 5 Measuring College Learning in Communication Nancy Kidd, Trevor Parry-Giles, Steven A. Beebe, and W. Bradford Mello Chapter 6 Measuring College Learning in Biology Clarissa Dirks and Jennifer K. Knight Chapter 7 Measuring College Learning in Business Jeffrey Nesteruk and Sara Beckman Chapter 8 A Set of Further Reflections on Improving Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Peter Ewell, Natasha Jankowski, George Kuh, Carol Geary Schneider, Charles Blaich, and Kathleen Wise Index
RICHARD ARUM is professor of sociology and education at New York University and director of the Social Science Research Council's Education Research Program. A leading voice in the national dialogue around learning in higher education, he has authored or coauthored numerous books, including Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Aspiring Adults Adrift (University of Chicago Press, 2014). JOSIPA ROKSA is associate professor of sociology and education at the University of Virginia. Roksa is known for her extensive research on inequality in higher education and is coauthor of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Aspiring Adults Adrift (University of Chicago Press, 2014). AMANDA COOK is program manager for Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, DC. Previously, she served as project manager for the Social Science Research Council's Measuring College Learning project, on which this book is based.
Solidly based in research and with contributions from outstanding thought leaders in the field, Improving Quality in American Higher Education is a key resource that outlines the essential concepts and competencies that college graduates must attain if they are to achieve lasting success. Drawing on the findings from the Measuring College Learning (MCL) project, the text encompasses faculty voices from biology, business, communication, economics, history, and sociology—disciplines that account for nearly forty percent of undergraduate majors in the United States. Filled with illustrative examples, this valuable text explores the ideas and skills which faculty believe are fundamental to the field, valuable to students, and worth emphasizing given limited time and resources. The contributors—including such luminaries as Ira Katznelson, George Kuh, and Carol Geary Schneider—offer a comprehensive overview of prior efforts to demonstrate learning outcomes in the six disciplines. Throughout the book, the experts take stock of existing learning outcomes assessments and present a forward-thinking, discipline-specific vision for the future of assessment. Improving Quality in American Higher Education addresses common concerns head-on, and offers compelling reasons why faculty should find productive ways to engage with assessment, not only in their own classrooms, but also in their departments and beyond.
PRAISE FOR IMPROVING QUALITY IN AMERICAN HIGHER EDUCATION "Joined by Amanda Cook, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa have organized and edited a most worthy successor to their landmark 2011 work, Academically Adrift. Improving Quality in American Higher Education should be mandatory reading for every faculty member, administrator, and policymaker concerned with student learning in postsecondary education." —Ernest Pascarella, professor of Higher Education, University of Iowa; co-author, How College Affects Students "Too often, faculty perspectives are absent in public policy discussions about student success and learning. The work highlighted in this book not only centralizes the role of faculty, but also advances current efforts to better demonstrate the value of a college education." —Michelle Asha Cooper, president, Institute for Higher Education Policy "Arum, Roksa, and Cook rightly argue that higher education can—and should—do more to foster students' long-term professional and personal success by developing their passion for learning as well as their higher-order skills and dispositions. The key is to empower faculty to set goals and develop measures to chart progress towards those goals. This collection of faculty voices is a must read for all those involved in higher education." —Richard J. Shavelson, former dean, Stanford University Graduate School of Education; author, Measuring College Learning Responsibly
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