Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Measuring Instruction in Higher Ed

To appraise the state of the art in measuring instruction in college and also explore possible future initiatives, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation brought together twenty-two experts on education and the learning sciences in November 2014.
The report draws on a wealth of knowledge and experience in K-12 education as well as in higher education, and finds a solid foundation on which to build. But there is a great deal more to do. STEM fields have been more heavily studied than the social sciences and the arts and humanities; research in the science of learning proliferates but is not typically applied in a way that demonstrates how different instructional approaches can yield better student learning outcomes; various rubrics and protocols are used – routinely in some instances -- to assess instructional quality but sometimes without as much evidence of their effectiveness as one would like.

The report also articulates a number of crucial design issues that future efforts will need to address early in any work. What ends should instructional measurement serve? (Here participants spoke with one voice: measures of instructional quality should be designed to improve instructional practice and ultimately student learning outcomes and not for high-stakes assessment of institutional performance.) Should efforts be focused on a single discipline or seek to draw lessons from across disciplines, perhaps even leveraging the relative progress being made in the STEM fields to invigorate work in the arts and humanities? Are there obvious starting points, for example, a common taxonomy that distinguishes instructional types or modalities; a review of the research that underpins existing measures and approaches; a focus on instruction in general education?
Download pdf report 

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