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Resources for Assessment in Higher Education

My work in library assessment has often included projects and conversations with campus assessment officers and personnel in institutional research/institutional effectiveness. We’ve talked about the library demonstrating its value for accreditation purposes and worked on engaging faculty in information literacy assessment. In my work with Project SAILS and the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy, I have seen a growing number of campus assessment professionals utilizing these tools to meet their campus assessment needs.

A few years ago I decided to learn more about the world of higher ed assessment and institutional research that exists outside the library. What are the priorities and perspectives of these professionals? Here are five of the most interesting and valuable sources that I have encountered.

All descriptions below come from the organizations’ web sites.


Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE)

The AALHE is an organization of practitioners interested in using effective assessment practice to document and improve student learning. As such, it serves the needs of those in higher education for whom assessment is a tool to help them understand learning and develop processes for improving it.

Recent publication - with author webinar!
The Assessment Profession in Higher Education: Addressing the Varied Professional Development Needs of Practitioners is packed with useful information about assessment practitioners’ perceptions, roles, and needs. Join the authors on July 25, 2018, 2:00 PM Eastern for a webinar in which they describe their research, results, and practical recommendations in the area of professional development. Sign up here for the Assessment Profession in Higher Education webinar.

Stay informed
Assessment Professionals in Higher Education Listserv
Annual conference


National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA)

Established in 2008, the mission of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment is to discover and disseminate ways that academic programs and institutions can productively use assessment data internally to inform and strengthen undergraduate education, and externally to communicate with policy makers, families and other stakeholders.

NILOA assists institutions and others in discovering and adopting promising practices in the assessment of college student learning outcomes. Documenting what students learn, know and can do is of growing interest to colleges and universities, accrediting groups, higher education associations, foundations and others beyond campus, including students, their families, employers, and policy makers.

Recent publication
National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. (2018, March). Mapping learning: A toolkit of resources. The curriculum mapping toolkit is focused on mapping learning in the variety of places it occurs including within a program, across general education, throughout the institution, and in the co-curriculum. The mapping toolkit provides resources for community colleges, certification programs, and learning experiences that may not be deemed a program per se, along with tools for four-year institutions.

Stay informed
Sign up for the email list
No annual conference but NILOA presentations are given at other conferences and archived at the NILOA web site

NILOA offers a robust selection of resources including:

  • Assessment Briefs Provide a short, informative introduction to the nature and practical use of assessment evidence that is targeted to a particular audience. Assessment briefs for faculty and student affairs professionals are currently available.
  • Examples of Good Assessment Practice Short, instructive case studies to develop a better understanding of what “good work” looks like related to assessment, data-informed improvement, and transparency at the institutional level.
  • Measuring Quality Online inventory of assessment resources presented in a joint partnership with AIR and ACE.
  • Viewpoints Invited pieces from learning outcomes experts and thought leaders to help spark further conversations and actions to help advance the field of student learning outcomes assessment.
  • Plus NILOA Reports,  Occasional Papers, and NILOA Newsletters

Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) 

HEDS is an organization of colleges and universities committed to sharing data, knowledge, and expertise to advance undergraduate liberal arts education, inclusive excellence, and student success at member institutions. Focus is on services for member institutions.

Annual conference


Association for Institutional Research (AIR) 

AIR supports higher education professionals in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication of data, and the strategic use of information for effective decision making and planning. AIR provides resources, innovative practices, and professional development opportunities for AIR members and the higher education community, including professionals from institutional research, effectiveness, assessment, planning, and related fields.​

Recent publication
AIR partnered with NASPA and EDUCAUSE on a national survey to gain a better understanding of higher education’s use of data and analytics for student success, and institutions’ readiness to expand the use of information across functional areas. The result is a report released April 11, 2018, titled Institutions’ Use Of Data And Analytics For Student Success: Results from a National Landscape Analysis. Survey findings indicate the overwhelming majority (89%) of respondents have invested in predictive data and analytics studies to increase student success, but less than half (42%) of them monitor the cost of those studies. The full report includes 12 key findings and concludes with 4 recommendations for improving and executing an institution-wide, data-informed strategy for student success.

Stay informed
LinkedIn
AIR Annual Forum


Assessment Institute

The Assessment Institute in Indianapolis is the nation’s oldest and largest event focused exclusively on outcomes assessment in higher education and is designed to provide opportunities for:

  • individuals and campus teams new to outcomes assessment to acquire fundamental knowledge about the field
  • individuals who have worked as leaders in outcomes assessment to share and extend their knowledge and skills
  • those interested in outcomes assessment at any level to establish networks that serve as sources of support and expertise beyond the dates of the Institute

NOTE: Three members of the TATIL Advisory Board -- Kathy Clarke, Carolyn Caffrey Gardner, and Cynthia Kane -- and I will be presenting at the Assessment Institute this year! And, Carrick Enterprises will be exhibiting as well!