WSCUC's Community of Practice for Advancing Learning Outcomes Visibility

Starting in Spring 2017, with funding from Lumina Foundation, WSCUC is collaborating with selected institutions through a Community of Practice to lend support, guidance, and consulting around projects related to assessing student learning and demonstrating visibility of that learning. Participating institutions will not only gain support as they implement their own projects, but will also develop a collection of good practices, resources, and guides to share, both regionally and nationally.


**WSCUC presented at the AALHE (Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education ) Conference in Louisville, KY, on June 13, 2017!

Errin Heyman, WSCUC, was joined by Carole L. Huston, Associate Provost, University of San Diego, and Bert C. Christensen, Director of Assessment and Institutional Research, Kaiser Permanente School of Allied Health. They gave an update on the project, overall, and highlighted their individual institution projects.

**Mentors are being identified and matched to projects!

**The first face-to-face meeting with the CoP occurred during the week of the Academic Resource Conference in San Diego! Approximately 30 participants joined to “kick off” their project work.

WSCUC was honored to have Dr. Natasha Jankowski, Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a guest presenter! Her presentation served as a foundation for group conversations around challenges, guidance, and next steps for project work.

The CoP continues its work in the online format, as mentors are being identified to work with project groups. We will add project descriptions and progress to this page as more details are formulated!


Additional Information - Community of Practice

Nationally, the call for visibility of student learning is in the spotlight (see NILOA’s May 2016 policy statement Why Documenting Student Learning Matters). As a regional accreditor, WSCUC seeks to help assure various stakeholders in higher education (policy makers, parents, the general public, and students themselves) that higher education institutions in the region are delivering on their promises to students regarding learning outcomes. Institutions cannot do this effectively without making students’ learning visible.

With funding from Lumina Foundation over a three-year period, WSCUC will develop and facilitate a Community of Practice (CoP) comprised of WSCUC institutions in order to increase leadership for and institutional capacity in learning outcomes assessment visibility. Institutions, through their participation, will receive consulting and network support in the process of implementing organizational projects.

The knowledge, strategies, and approaches generated from institutional projects associated with the CoP will result in a rich collection of institutional and accreditation process resources, including exemplars and learning guides, for the WSCUC region – and nationally – around aligning and assessing student learning outcomes per the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation, visibility of evidence, and using evidence for improvement.

The intended outcomes of the project are:

Outcome 1: Learning Outcomes Capacity-Building: To further develop WSCUC’s regional capacity and national leadership in providing evidence of student learning as one crucial component of student achievement. The key focus here will be on using learning outcomes assessment results to support authentic student learning and/or institutional improvement per the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation.

Outcome 2: Improved Learning Outcomes Visibility: To support WSCUC institutions in making good evidence of student learning more visible and accessible to a general public and various stakeholders.

Outcome 3: Quality Assurance/Accreditation Resource Development, Curation, and Dissemination: To develop a curated collection of accreditation process resources, including exemplars and learning guides, for the WSCUC region -- and nationally -- around aligning and assessing student learning outcomes per the Standards or Accreditation, the visibility of evidence, and using evidence for improvement.

See also: Why Documenting Student Learning Matters:

    Through the Community of Practice, WSCUC will curate and disseminate a collection of institutional learning outcomes assessment and accreditation resources to further support the requirements of the 2013 Handbook of Accreditation, including:

    • Guidelines/resources for institutions regarding actionable learning outcomes assessment data collection and analysis models aligned to 21st century higher educational opportunities;
    • Guidelines/resources for institutions regarding making evidence of student learning/learning outcomes assessment results visible;
    • A curated collection of institutional resources, samples, and exemplars;
    • Guidelines/resources for peer review committees, teams, and the Commission for evaluating institutional reports vis-à-vis the 2013 Handbook requirements;
    • White papers or other contributions to national initiatives in this area, including presentations at national conferences and contributions to the NILOA assessment resource library.

      Institutions have identified projects that are focused on student learning assessment and making learning results visible, and may relate to areas such as:

      • Assessment of one or more of the WSCUCs’ Five Core Competencies
      • Assuring degree quality
      • General education assessment
      • Departmental or programmatic assessment efforts
      • Co-curricular assessment
      • Developing campus infrastructure for sustainable assessment processes
      • Quality and rigor of graduate-level education
      • Developing a faculty (or administrative) development program around learning assessment and visibility
      • “Closing the Loop” initiatives
      • Making assessment processes meaningful and visible to a variety of internal and external stakeholders
      • Including students in assessment processes
      • Developing processes/policies that demonstrate evidence that supports institutional commitment to sustained best practices around student learning assessment

      WSCUC sought a diverse representation of institutions in creating the Community of Practice in terms of institutional type (public, private, non-profit, for-profit, faith-based, comprehensive, single-focus, etc.).

      • Institutions need to be in candidacy status or accredited by WSCUC.
      • Institutions need to identify a committed institutional team to participate, consisting of at least two people, at least one of which must be a faculty member.

      Institutions participating will commit to:

      • Creating and implementing a student learning assessment visibility project to developed, implemented, and shared within the Community of Practice;
      • Experimenting with adopting or adapting existing frameworks, models, and resources to promote alignment and coordination of work across institutions;
      • Sharing strategies, resources, and examples broadly within and outside of the WSCUC community;
      • Interacting regularly in virtual Community of Practice discussions and activities.

      “A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wegner-Traynor). Additionally, [a Community] of Practice revolves around:

      The domain: members are brought together by a learning need they share (whether this shared learning need is explicit or not and whether learning is the motivation for their coming together or a by-product of it)

      The community: their collective learning becomes a bond among them over time (experienced in various ways and thus not a source of homogeneity)

      The practice: their interactions produce resources that affect their practice (whether they engage in actual practice together or separately).


      The CoP is housed within a Blackboard online course site; participants will be divided into smaller groups for discussions or resource-sharing based primarily on institutional project topics. The exact size of each small group will depend upon the number of participants and institutions working on similar topics; the entire CoP will not exceed participants from 15-30 institutions at any given time.