Learning Outcomes

Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) Institute, 2015–Present

Beginning in 2015–2016, UMass Amherst has participated in the Association of American Colleges and Universities's (AAC&U) multi-state, multi-institutional VALUE Institute to assess student learning outcomes. The University was interested in participating in this project because, unlike other national assessment efforts that have relied on standardized tests to study student performance, this assessment project uses anonymized samples of actual student work to assess students' performance in a number of areas, including Critical Thinking and Written Communication. This student work, collected in upper-division courses, is scored by a group of faculty members from colleges and universities across the country. These faculty members use the AAC&U's VALUE Rubrics for Critical Thinking and Written Communication to score this work.

Based on campus experiences to date and feedback from UMass faculty participants, we have evidence to suggest that this approach to assessment has potential—not only for beginning to pinpoint students' skills, but also for involving faculty in focused, cross-disciplinary discussions of student learning. In the last three years more than 70 faculty members have contributed student work and/or scored student work as a part of this Critical Thinking and Written Communication assessment project.

2019-2020 VALUE Institute Information

In spring 2020, OAPA is sending an invitation to all instructors teaching upper-level (300 or higher) courses to participate in this year’s VALUE Institute. (See the memo below for additional information about this invitation.)

2016-2018 VALUE Institute Participation

In 2018, one-hundred pieces of advanced student work from twenty-one upper level courses were randomly selected and submitted for scoring on Critical Thinking and Written Communication for the national project.

This work was also scored internally by a group of UMass Amherst instructors as was 100 pieces of first year students’ work collected from first-year writing courses in collaboration with the University’s Writing Program. For the internal assessment, scorers used a hybrid Critical Thinking and Written Communication rubric being developed by UMass Amherst faculty and staff. The design of this campus-based rubric has been informed by both the VALUE rubrics and our campus-based VALUE Institute scoring experiences. See the initial report on the results of internal scoring below. Further information on the project will be provided once the national results are released in 2019.

See below for reports on UMass Amherst participation in previous years.