Students spend years, families spend thousands, and Canada spends billions on postsecondary education. What are we getting for the investment? Tens of thousands of students will graduate with diplomas and degrees this spring. What have they learned?
On May 19-20, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario hosted the conference Measuring the Value of a Postsecondary Education, inviting an international slate of authorities on learning assessment to share their expertise with Ontario’s postsecondary education sector.
More than 160 leaders and senior administrators from colleges, universities, educational associations, student groups and government attended the conference. Over the two days they heard about global initiatives in measuring learning outcomes. Among them, the Council for Aid to Education’s Collegiate Learning Assessment is a U.S. effort to assess the quality of undergraduate education by directly measuring student learning outcomes. The European Union is harmonizing higher education programs and degrees in defining learning outcomes by subject area – a process known as Tuning. The Lumina Foundation is piloting a similar Tuning project in several U.S. states. And the OECD’s Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes project is gathering data globally on the relevance and quality of teaching and learning in higher education as a tool for postsecondary institutions to assess and improve their teaching; for students to make better choices in selecting institutions; for greater government accountability; and for employers to know if the skills of the graduates entering the job market match their needs.
HEQCO will publish the conference proceedings within the coming year. In the interim, you can access a brief video interview with HEQCO president and CEO Harvey Weingarten, a fast-paced video featuring excerpts from the conference (stay tuned!), copies of the presentations and speaker bios.
As the conference clearly attests, there is a growing need to demonstrate the value derived from public and personal investment in higher education. Countries around the world are vigorously pursuing this issue and Canada needs to be part of these global initiatives. HEQCO is the catalyst behind a ‘made in Ontario’ tuning exercise, in partnership with the Lumina Foundation. The first step will be the creation of a steering committee of interested institutional senior administrators at the provincial and national levels to champion the activity. HEQCO is also seeking proposals from colleges and universities across the country to pilot the Collegiate Learning Assessment at their institutions.
History tells us that we are not very good at predicting the jobs of tomorrow, but we know what the baseline skills for success look like. Now we need to find out whether postsecondary students and the public purse are getting what they paid for.
Download the Presentations
9:15 a.m. | May 19 | Approaches to Measurement
Chair: Sam Andrey, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
Assessing and Improving Student Learning and Educational Quality
Jillian Kinzie, NSSE, IU Center for Postsecondary Education
Teach, Learn, Assess
Roger Benjamin, CAE
11:00 a.m. | May 19 | What’s Happening in the USA?
Chair: David Agnew, Seneca College
Holiday Hart McKiernan, Lumina Foundation (no presentation available)
1:15 p.m. | May 19 | What’s Happening in the OECD and Elsewhere?
Chair: Allison Sekuler, McMaster University
OECD Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO): Rationale, Challenges and Initial Insights from the Feasibility Study
Diane Lalancette, OECD
Modernization of Higher Education Programs in Europe: Student-Centered and Learning Outcomes Based
Robert Wagenaar, Tuning Projects
9:05 a.m. | May 20 | What’s Happening in Australia?
Chair: Maureen Mancuso, University of Guelph
Standards-based Accountability in Higher Education: What’s Happening in Australia
Michael Gallagher, Group of Eight Australia
10:40 a.m. | May 20 | The Innovators
Chair: Lesley Lovett-Doust, Nipissing University
An Influence Pathway: Leadership to Culture to Practice to Outcomes
Lorne Whitehead, University of British Columbia
Gauging Impact: Connecting Student Assessment-as-Learning with Program and Institutional Assessment
Jeana Abromeit, Alverno College
1:00 p.m. | May 20 | Lessons from Ontario
Chair: Rob MacIsaac, Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology
Lessons from Ontario: The Value of Learning Outcomes
Virginia Hatchette, Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board