MSC: A Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment


What is the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment?

The MSC is an initiative designed to provide meaningful evidence about how well students are achieving important learning outcomes. The initiative foregrounds a distinctly different form of assessment than the traditional standardized test. Instead of producing reports about average scores on tests, the project is piloting the use of common rubrics applied by teams of faculty to student’ authentic college work—including such things as projects, papers, and research. The MSC is designed to produce valid data summarizing faculty judgments of students’ own work, and also seeks to aggregate results in a way that allows for benchmarking across institutions and states. The primary goal of the initiative is to provide assessment data that will allow faculty and institution leaders to assess—and improve—the levels of student achievement on a set of cross-cutting outcomes important for all disciplines.

With the active support of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), nine states—Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah—agreed to collaborate in the development and pilot testing of a different model for learning outcomes assessment—a model that is rooted in campus/system collaboration, in authentic student work, and in faculty curriculum development and teaching activity. The project builds on efforts in Massachusetts (as part of its Vision Project) and builds on the AAC&U LEAP initiative through which it developed a common set of rubrics—VALUE Rubrics—to assess the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes.

In its initial phase of work, the project is evaluating student achievement of two of the most important outcomes of a college education—written communication and quantitative reasoning. In its first year, the project is examining student work from 68 colleges, community colleges, and universities in nine states.

For any questions, please contact Gloria Auer at gauer@sheeo.org or (303) 541-1625.

 

Which States are Involved?

Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah

 

What are the Guiding Principles of the MSC?

  • Any system of assessment should help build and support a culture of student learning that allows for assessment results to be used by each campus and by larger public systems for improving student learning and for program improvement.
  • Any statewide or campus plan for assessment should be based upon authentic student work and allow for the use of multiple measures of student learning—indirect, direct, and embedded—without a single mandated statewide test.
  • A common framework is needed for any credible statewide system of assessment and accountability. The AAC&U LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and VALUE Rubrics designed to assess the Essential Learning Outcomes are a useful framework given their broad adoption nationally and their endorsement both within and outside of higher education institutions and systems. 
  • Assessment approaches should involve an iterative process, and, as such, be viewed as works in progress.
  • Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.

 

Who is leading the MSC?

The MSC is being led by a steering committee of individuals at SHEEO and AAC&U, and in each of the nine participating states. Each campus has designated a campus leader and in its first year the project is engaging hundreds of faculty in local activities to build capacity to assess and improve student learning. Over time, the project will build upon early efforts and seek to build ongoing opportunities for faculty to learn from and share information with colleagues across departments, institutions, and states about assignment design, assessment techniques, and teaching and learning approaches that increase student success.

Steering Committee

 

Other Resources

AAC&U VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education case studies 

The Belmont Report from the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, April 18, 1979

 

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