Posted by: Gregory Linton | 05/16/2019

Campus Labs conducts major study of learning outcomes for institutions and programs

Two weeks ago, Campus Labs published a 38-page research report written by Shannon LaCount and Matt Jackson titled “Degree of difference: What do learning outcomes say about higher education?”  The Campus Labs platform provides institutions with the technology to document and map learning outcomes statements at various organizational levels. From this data, the Campus Labs Data Science team gathered 15,521 institutional (ILO) and department or program level (PLO) learning outcomes statements from 73 colleges and universities across the United States. I will list some of the interesting findings, focusing on the data relating to four-year institutions:

  • Out of 19 different outcomes themes, the top five most common themes were the same for ILOs and PLOs: Intellectual Skills, Communication, Culture, Personal Development, and Technology.
  • “Intellectual Skills” (which includes critical thinking, problem solving, and reasoning) was the most frequently mentioned learning outcome at both the institutional and program level.
  • “Personal Development” is the #2 outcome at the program level but only #4 at the institutional level.
  • “Quantitative Reasoning” shows up in only 2% of outcomes statements even though employers identify it as the #5 most desirable attribute of job candidates.
  • The most common form of assessment for learning outcomes was “Survey Questionnaire,” followed by “Essays,” “Exams and Final Exams,” and “Individual Project.”
  • At the institutional level, 77% of learning outcomes statements relate to the three lowest levels of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (remember, understand, and apply), while only 23% relate to the three highest levels of analyze, evaluate, and create.
  • At the program level, 74% of learning outcomes statements relate to the three lowest levels of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (remember, understand, and apply), while only 26% relate to the three highest levels of analyze, evaluate, and create.

The authors conclude by pointing out that “institutions will need to differentiate from one another by the uniqueness of what learning outcomes they can provide students” (p. 38).


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