Common Core for higher education?

New blanket rubric for assessing student work sounds a lot like Common Core State Standards

common-core-rubricIf you’re not familiar, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is “a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English Language Arts/literacy (ELA),” says the CCSS Initiative, with assessments that are given to students to measure their progress in these standards. Most states have signed on, with controversy. But is a new rubric the Common Core for higher ed?

68 institutions (including both 2-year and 4-year) in 9 states (Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Utah. See: for full list of participating institutions) have agreed to pilot a new approach to learning outcomes assessment, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), called Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC).

The approach, supported in its initial planning year with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will have participating institutions pilot test a cross-state and cross-institutional effort to document how well students are achieving key learning outcomes like quantitative reasoning, written communication, and critical thinking by assessing authentic student work products using a set of common rubrics.…Read More

5 must-haves for online assessments

‘Good’ online assessments could bring much-needed credibility to MOOCs

online-assessments-MOOCAs K-12 schools and higher education institutions across the country begin to implement online learning, issues of low retention rates and lack of credibility are some of the main reasons why skeptics hesitate in supporting online learning—specifically MOOCs.

The answer to increasing retention rates, as well as giving more credibility to many less traditional forms of online learning, is in good assessments, say supporters.

“Assessments are the lynchpins of MOOCs,” said David Smetters, CEO of Respondus, a Windows exam creation tool. “If you go to a college campus and sit in the back of a lecture hall, it’s certainly possible to learn things. But when you actually register for the course and take the assessments designed for it, you can demonstrate mastery of the content. An instructor then feels comfortable providing a grade, and likewise the institution is comfortable granting a certificate, a degree or some type of badge.”…Read More

Competency-based learning proving popular

Canvas’ new competency-based gradebook is part of a larger trend toward alternative student assessment

competency-assessments-learningAt a January conference in Washington, D.C., two representatives from Western Governors University claimed that the institution had transitioned from an experiment in competency-based learning to a “proof of concept.”

“We know from that different people learn things at different rates,” Sally Johnstone, vice president for academic advancement at the university, said. “We also know that the same individual may learn different subjects at different rates. We can use competency-based education and online tools to accommodate that. We are no longer in a position where we have to ask all students to do the same thing at the same time at the same pacing.”

With competency-based learning, student progress is not necessarily mapped to traditional grades, textbook chapters, or even, in Western Governor’s case, semester time-frames. Instead, it’s based around the mastering of key concepts, often at a more personalized pace.…Read More