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Higher Education Learning Outcomes Assessment

International Perspectives


Edited By Hamish Coates

This book provides higher education teachers, leaders and policymakers with insights from research on assessing students’ learning outcomes. The book is founded in research, shaped by policy, and designed to be of enduring relevance to practice. Framed by a cycle of continuous quality improvement, it begins by discussing policy contexts and research concepts. Experts discuss institutional, disciplinary, national and international case studies. Perspectives are advanced for reviewing the relevance and feasibility of assessment initiatives. The book explores what stakeholders have done to convert work on learning outcomes into improvements in education.
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Assessing student learning outcomes: Research trajectories


Abstract: Measurement of learning outcomes first requires the specification of a set of outcomes and related rubrics or standards by which attainment of the outcomes can be assessed. Various taxonomies have been developed in a range of countries but there is little common ideology behind them or consistency in the way they are defined. The research contexts and the approaches used in developing these different taxonomies of learning outcomes are discussed and a set of criteria explored for making judgments about the suitability of the resultant sets of learning outcomes. The next research question then relates to how these learning outcomes, which may be useful within an institution for accreditation or credit transfer purposes, are to be measured. Various different approaches to assessment have been used in the past, some of which do not actually measure what students have learned. These are discussed and challenges to accurate measurement identified. The chapter contends that recent work in the United States suggests that it may be possible to use direct individual assessment of students as the basis of measurement of learning outcomes at an institutional level, but that such a prospect requires a change in approach to assessment by academic staff.

Keywords: defining learning outcomes; measuring learning outcomes; academic assessment; education research

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