The experience and success of the CIC/CLA Consortium offer lessons for leaders of independent colleges and universities as they seek evidence-based approaches to improve teaching and learning and as they respond to demands for more assessment of, and accountability for, student learning outcomes. Among them are:
- Measures and measurement matter. The CLA provides an opportunity to measure critical skills in ways that most faculty members recognize as being important and authentic. Once a measure like the CLA is used it establishes the principle that an institution can use it as well as other types of measures and evidence to improve student learning.
- Measuring student learning creates a catalyst for institutional change. The process of measuring student learning creates a catalyst for institutional change—and it is difficult to imagine reversing this momentum. Assessment becomes part of the conversation and an ongoing activity of the institution, which leads to changes in teaching strategies and pedagogy.
- Collaboration among institutions helps assessment and change. The sharing of experiences and advice among institutions creates a community of professional practice that makes it easier to improve an institution’s work. The work of the CIC/CLA Consortium provides a model of how undergraduate education can become more professionalized through shared understandings, measures, and practices.
- Self-directed, voluntary efforts to demonstrate an institution’s value do succeed. The pressure on higher education to demonstrate its value, especially in light of rising costs, is not likely to fade in the foreseeable future. The CIC/CLA Consortium offers an example of self-directed, voluntary professional efforts that have and will continue to provide a sound response to public demands for assessment, accountability, and improvement.
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