Despite much discussion about accountability in higher education—from the White House to the faculty lounge—learning outcomes assessment training is scarce.

Suffolk's Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence, through a $227,200 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, is leading a consortium of area institutions working to design and implement a customizable Learning Assessment Curriculum.

"Assessment has become more central to everyone's jobs," said Kathryn Linder, director of the Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence, who, with Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Assessment Melanie Jenkins, is taking the lead on the project in collaboration with seven other New England colleges and universities.

This Learning Assessment Research Consortium will work over the three-year duration of the grant to:

  • Analyze assessment education needs among faculty, administrators, and staff at participating institutions¬†
  • Develop a modular Learning Assessment Curriculum conveyed through online and face-to-face instruction; it will be customizable and will include facilitation guides
  • Pilot test, revise and distribute the curriculum

"This collaboration will be a catalyst for our own assessment initiative and will enhance our ability to assess programs and measure student success in accordance with the University's strategic plan," said Jenkins.

The project grew out of informal collaborations among colleagues from various Boston-area schools. With a common interest in developing flexible learning assessment curricula for their institutions, they realized that a stronger curriculum could be developed more efficiently if they were to work together.

The curriculum that results from their research and design efforts will be freely disseminated nationwide.

"This is perfect timing for Suffolk," said Linder. "We're working on strengthening our own assessment, and we fully recognize the importance of assessment in student learning and outcomes."

When the project is complete, the University will participate in presentations at national conferences, publication of journal articles, and a national webinar on the curriculum that will be open to all higher education institutions.

The Davis Educational Foundation, which is funding the project, was established by Stanton and Emily Davis after Stanton Davis' retirement as chair of Shaw's Supermarket, Inc.