Balancing Priorities: Sharing Responsibility for the Assessment of Student Learning

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For some time, researchers, educators, and practitioners have acknowledged that in order to create a learning culture, where assessment becomes a part of the learning process, various constituents must share responsibility for assessment of student learning (Shepard 2000). This includes teachers, who evaluate both their own teaching and student learning; students, who should be actively evaluating their own work and progress toward achieving learning outcomes; and administrators, who share a vision, set priorities, and evaluate outcomes at a larger system level. Only when all parties involved are committed, engaged, and working toward accomplishing the same goals can a learning culture be developed.

Organizational development researchers study culture change and have identified best practices for leading change (e.g., Schein 2004). These include aligning the goals of the change effort with organizational strategy; gaining commitment from top-level leadership; creating and maintaining a superior change team; and planning for continuous improvement. This paper describes how Minnesota State University, Mankato used these principles to help institutionalize a new set of student learning outcomes toward a learning culture that values assessment of student learning in ways the university never had before. The efforts described in this paper have been a part of the Academy Project for the university’s participation in the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) Academy for Assessment of Student Learning.



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2014 Collection of Papers on Quality in Higher Education