Assessment Spotlights

NILOA: "Assessment That Matters" Report

NILOA: "Assessment That Matters" Report

NILOA releases results of third national survey on assessment practices in U.S. higher education

From the press release:

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) is pleased to announce the release of a national survey report, Assessment That Matters: Trending Toward Practices That Document Authentic Student Learning. The report provides a snapshot of institution-wide assessment practice in the U.S. from 811 regionally accredited, undergraduate degree-granting institutions, surveyed between April and September, 2017. This national report offers comprehensive updated as well as trend data on the status of assessment at higher education institutions in the U.S. Supported by nearly ten years of research and data tracking changes and trends in institutional assessment practices over time, this report presents major findings and offers insights into areas for further improvement.

Several findings of note include:

  1. Assessment continues to be driven by both compliance and improvement, with an emphasis on equity.
  2. Institutions are trending towards greater use of authentic measures of student learning, including rubrics, classroom-based performance assessments and capstones, which is consistent with what provosts indicate are most valuable for improving student outcomes.
  3. Institutional needs for advancing assessment work have shifted since 2009 from engaging more faculty in assessing student learning to supporting faculty use of assessment results and wider stakeholder involvement.
  4. The majority of changes made and uses of evidence of student learning occur at the program- and course-level.
  5. Effectively communicating information about student learning remains a target of opportunity for assessment work.
  6. While assessment-related technologies hold promise of assisting with alignment and integration of learning across the institution, meaningful implementation remains elusive.

Implications for policy and practice include:

  1. While use of assessment results is increasing, documenting improvements in student learning and the quality of teaching falls short of what the enterprise needs.
  2. Equity is an important consideration in assessment work, but underemphasized in data use.
  3. Governing boards have a key role to play in sustaining and further developing meaningful assessment.
  4. Professional development could be more meaningfully integrated with assessment efforts, supporting faculty use of results, technology implementation, and integration of efforts across an institution.

Visit for details about the report.

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Page last modified January 25, 2018