Defending the Value of Education
By Sarah Riddlebarger
“Nearly 70 Colleges Team Up to Assess Student Learning” published by Inside Higher Education, notes the collaboration among institutions to effectively measure student learning outcomes using a common set of rubrics.
One of the themes of this article and its underlying press release is that a positive byproduct of the project – an initiative called the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment – could be to demonstrate the value of education whose value has been questioned by many pundits as the costs of education continue to rise.
As traditional higher ed girds its loins for a probable coming battle (most of us think it’s a given that the regulatory pressure on for profits will soon have an impact on the not for profit space), this project offers an interesting collaboration to create common language and activities to measure success.
Currently in a pilot phase, I like how this initiative sets up the 68 participating two- and four-year institutions to collaborate voluntarily, on the faculty level, to standardize what students are expected to learn and create measures of how much they are actually learning. This emphasis on learning outcomes can help refine expectations around learning, and help faculty more clearly illustrate the value of a course or program.
As ED MAP refines our CURATE services (discovery of high quality, digital, disaggregated content that aligns with learning objectives), we have been collaborating with many institutions from both the traditional higher education and for-profit sectors. When I first jumped into this, I was honestly surprised at how many instances I saw of a course being built around a textbook – my assumption as a relative outsider to academia was that everyone always started with the learning objectives. I think ed tech at its best enables educators – and we feel really good that CURATE facilitates a process of using content to support outcomes instead of the other way around.
Collaboration is always good. It’s nice to see faculty collaborating to elevate the discussion around outcomes and assessments. And selfishly, it’s also nice to see that ED MAP is heading in exactly the right direction to support faculty as more and more become involved in initiatives like this.