Measuring student learning: good news and bad news

In the wake of last week’s buzz over the release of a controversial new book on undergraduate education, Academically Adrift (see “New Book Lays Failure to Learn on Colleges’ Doorsteps” ), today the Lumina Foundation released a beta version of their proposed framework for measuring student learning. Called “The Degree Qualifications Profile,” this framework is intended to provide a national standard that defines (in broad terms) the knowledge and skills needed at the Associates’, Bachelors’, and Masters’ degree levels. According to the Chronicle of Higher Ed, two regional accrediting agencies and the Council of Independent Colleges have agreed to help Lumina test this new framework. Lumina’s proposal is already being met with skepticism by faculty (see Inside Higher Ed, “What Degrees Should mean” ). Experts quoted in the article feel that although the content of the new framework is not very controversial, the process of implementing its use would be.

“Perhaps the biggest tension in the last few years’ debates over higher education accountability has been the pressure on the part of some policy makers to insist on outcomes and measures that are comparable across programs and institutions, on the theory that to make decisions among colleges, consumers need the same information from all of them. But that, critics argue, leads to reductionism that helps no one.” -Inside Higher Ed