The National Institute for Student Learning Outcomes Assessment has various resources for institutions interested in assessment practices including the Resource Library, online inventory of assessment resources (please see Measuring Quality) and research and reports designed to examine the depth and breadth of student learning outcomes assessment at accredited colleges and universities across the United States in NILOA Resources section.

“For an exhaustive database updated regularly of institutional links revolving around outcomes assessment in higher education, look at NC State University’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning”

Learning Outcomes and Assessment System: The Outcome Primers Series 2.0

A relatively new addition to the field of learning outcomes and assessment, The Outcome Primers Series 2.0, is a comprehensive professional development series. Each of the six primers focuses on one aspect of an effective outcome and assessment system that is sustainable over time. The methodology aligns with guided pathways. Central to each primer is a river metaphor that keeps the reader focused on the learners’ journey and the building of learner competence. The authors provide clear explanations and concrete examples of their work with various colleges and universities.  The six titles include the following:

The OUTCOME Primer: Envisioning Learning Outcomes
The ASSESSMENT Primer: Assessing and Tracking Evidence of Learning Outcomes
The CONTENT Primer: Aligning Essential Content with Learning Outcomes
The MAPPING Primer: Mapping the Way to Learning Outcomes
The GUIDING Primer: Guiding Toward Learning Outcomes
The SUSTAINAB ILITY Primer: Sustaining Learning Outcomes and Assessment

Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO)

The Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes will test what students in higher education know and can do upon graduation. More than a ranking, AHELO is a direct evaluation of student performance. It will provide data on the relevance and quality of teaching and learning in higher education. The test aims to be global and valid across diverse cultures, languages and different types of institutions.

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO)

The HEQCO website outlines the research agenda as encompassing “three major research projects focused on defining and measuring learning outcomes, working with Ontario’s colleges, universities in partnership with international organizations. The projects build on the provincial government’s work in quality assessment and learning outcomes.”

Kuh, G. D., Ikenberry, S. O., Jankowski, N. A., Cain, T. R., Ewell, P. T., Hutchings, P., & Kinzie, J. (2015). Using evidence of student learning to improve higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

The scholars at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) present a reframed conception and approach to student learning outcomes assessment. The authors explain why it is counterproductive to view collecting and using evidence of student accomplishment as primarily a compliance activity. For assessment professionals and educational leaders, Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education offers both a compelling rationale and practical advice for making student learning outcomes assessment more effective and efficient.

National Communication Association. (2014, December 8). Retrieved from:

The National Communication Association website has online resources for developing and assessing communication courses. Their website provides links to resources about developing syllabi, preparing for online courses, and learning about appropriate assessment approaches. In particular, the Developing a Course webpage has examples of syllabi from faculty members that may help in developing and assessing communication courses. There are also links to other resources regarding advocating and training for a basic communication course.

Adelman, C. (2015, February). To imagine a verb: The language and syntax of learning outcomes statements. (Occasional Paper No. 24). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

This essay provides language-centered principles, guidelines and tools for writing student learning outcome statements.

Hutchings, P. (2014). DQP case study: Kansas City Kansas Community College. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from: Source

This case study explores how Kansas City Kansas Community College used the DQP to supplement assessment efforts.

Buttner, A. (2015). Finding the way in the assessment landscape: Developing an effective assessment map. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

To address the issue of showing interconnections between assessments across the program, Anke Buttner decided to create a visual, interactive assessment map to illustrate the relationships between assignments and to collate assessment information into a single user-friendly context.

AACC Curriculum Tools. Retrieved from: Source

Provides resources on curriculum tools for civic responsibility, syllabus and course design, course templates, and assessment.

Hart Research Associates. (2009, May). Learning and assessment: Trends in undergraduate education. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities. Retrieved from: Source

This report is the first of two reports summarizing findings from a survey conducted in late 2008 and early 2009 of chief academic officers at AAC&U member institutions.

Kuh, G. D., Jankowski, N., Ikenberry, S. O., & Kinzie, J. (2014). Knowing What Students Know and Can Do: The Current State of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment in US Colleges and Universities. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). Retrieved from: Source

In a follow-up to the 2009 survey of chief academic officers, NILOA again asked institutions about practices and activities related to assessing student learning. This report showcases findings regarding institutional activities, uses, drivers, and areas of continued need to advance the assessment of student learning. In addition, the report examines changes and shifts over time in institutional assessment related activities.

Ewell, P., Paulson, K., & Kinzie, J. (2011). Down and in: assessment practices at the program level. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA). Retrieved from: Source

To follow up the 2009 National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) report on institutional assessment activity described by chief academic officers, NILOA surveyed program heads in the two- and four-year sectors to gain a more complete picture of assessment activity at the program- or department-level.  This report details the findings for that survey.

Sternberg, R.J., Penn, J., Hawkins, C., and Reed, S. (2011). Assessing college student learning: Evaluating alternative models, using multiple methods. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities. Retrieved from: Source

Campus leaders face a bewildering array of different assessment methods-standardized or locally designed tests and inventories, indirect methods focusing on student self-reports of engagement or gains in learning, portfolios, and other performance-based methods.

Benjamin, R., Miller, M. A., Rhodes, T. L., Banta, T. W., Pike, G. R., & Davies, G. (2012, September). The Seven Red Herrings About Standardized Assessments in Higher Education (NILOA Occasional Paper No.15). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

This occasional paper by Roger Benjamin outlines the merit and role of standardized tests for assessment in higher education by addressing familiar arguments against standardized assessments that have confused participants on each side of the debate about the need for and the possibility of new benchmarks on student learning outcomes.

NILOA Resource library. Retrieved from: Source

Articles, presentations, etc. on various assessment topics (over 700 resources).

Council for Adult and Experiential Learning & Excelencia in Education. (2014). Accelerating degree completion for Latinos through prior learning assessment. Retrieved from: Source

This policy brief provides suggested policy changes that would help make prior learning assessment (PLA) more accessible to Latino students through information, outreach, guidance, and financial support.

Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. (2011). Underserved students who earn credit through prior learning assessment (PLA) have higher degree completion rates and shorter time-to-degree. Retrieved from: Source

The findings outlined in this research brief show that Hispanic and black, non-Hispanic students who earn prior learning assessment (PLA) credits had higher graduation rates and required less time to earn their degrees, compared to their peers without PLA credit.

The Alternative Credit Project. Retrieved from: Source  

The Alternative Credit Project through the American Council on Education (ACE) has partnered with 40 institutions and three systems to accept students’ alternative credit. About 100 low-cost or no-cost courses will be available online with ACE’s credit recommendation.

Measuring College Learning Project. Retrieved from: Source  

The SSRC’s Measuring College Learning project brings faculty into the quality conversation by engaging them in consensus-driven discussions about learning outcomes and assessment in higher education.

Community College Views on Nursing Accreditation. Retrieved from: Source  

Addresses the role of assessment in assessing student learning outcomes within nursing accreditation.

Hynes, S., Pope. M, Loughlin, P., & Watkins, S. (2015). The student transformative learning record at the University of Central Oklahoma: A commitment to improving student learning. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

In recent years, many have questioned the value of a college degree. The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) orchestrated a plan to overcome this challenge by developing the the Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR): a unique tool and process designed to capture, assess and document student transformative learning.

Kuh, G.D., Ikenberry, S.O., Jankowski, N.A., Cain, T.R., Ewell, P.T., Hutchings, P., & Kinzie, J. (Oct-Nov 2015). Beyond compliance: Making assessment matter. Change Magazine. Retrived from: Source

The authors argue that it is essential that we overcome the culture of compliance if students and institutions are to prosper in the years ahead; doing so will also help to strengthen the public’s confidence in and support for higher education.

Academic Leaders Toolkit: Retrieved from: Source  

Provides a database of assessment related tools for use in measuring student learning.

Marzetti, H.L. (2015). Leading enhancement in assessment and feedback at the University of Edinburgh. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

In recent years, the University of Edinburgh has been working on the Leading Enhancement in Assessment and Feedback (LEAF) project and using Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment (TESTA) methodology to help improve oversight of the assessment and feedback activities provided on their degree programs, with a view to enhancing their practices.

Hersh, R. H., & Keeling, R. P. (2013, February). Changing institutional culture to promote assessment of higher learning. (Occasional Paper No. 17). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

The purpose of this paper is to help realign the assessment conversation by arguing for institutional culture change that puts higher learning first and simultaneously embraces systemic assessment as a prerequisite of and central condition for a culture in which learning is the priority.

Kezar, A., & Maxey, D. (2014, July). Student outcomes assessment among the new non-tenure-track faculty majority. (Occasional Paper No. 21). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

This paper explores the potential for non-tenure-track faculty to meaningfully contribute to student learning outcomes assessment and outlines policies and practices that can facilitate such contributions.

Gold, L., Rhoades, G., Smith, M., & Kuh, G. (2011, May). What faculty unions say about student learning outcomes assessment. (NILOA Occasional Paper No. 9). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Three major national faculty unions –American Association of University Professors (AAUP), American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) – help shape the work conditions of faculty in many postsecondary education institutions. In this paper, representatives from each of the organizations describe their group’s positions on student learning and educational attainment and the role of assessing student learning outcomes.

Hutchings, P. (2010, April). Opening doors to faculty involvement in assessment. (NILOA Occasional Paper No. 4). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

This paper examines the dynamics behind this reality, including the mixed origins of assessment, coming both from within and outside academe, and a number of obstacles that stem from the culture and organization of higher education itself. In addition, this paper explores the recent developments that promise to alter those dynamics, including and especially the rising level of interest in teaching and learning as scholarly, intellectual work.

Hutchings, P. (2011, April). What new faculty need to know about assessment (NILOA Assessment Brief: Faculty). Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

This short paper aims to give faculty a sense of the defining features, practices, and significance of assessment—a required activity on all campuses today that you can both contribute to and benefit from.

Cain, T.R., (2014, November). Assessment and academic freedom: In concert, not conflict. (Occasional Paper No. 22). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

This paper considers a claim that contributes to faculty resistance when it comes to learning outcomes assessment: that learning outcomes assessment is a fundamental abridgment of academic freedom.

Student guide to Credit for Prior Learning (CPL). Retrieved from: Source

This guide includes benefits and examples, methods of evaluating CPL, choosing institutions with CPL programs, and any pitfalls to avoid.

Best Practices: Credit for Prior Learning. Retrieved from: Source  

This ACE page is for Best Practices for Credit for Prior Learning. It includes developing best practices and tools for getting started on outreach.

The Credit for Prior Learning Implementation Matrix. Retrieved from: Source

The Matrix was designed by ACE and crosswalks institutional stages with definitions and activities.

Lakin, M.B., Seymour, D., Nellum, C.J., Crandall, J.R. (2015). Credit for prior learning: Charting institutional practice for sustainability. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. Retrieved from: Source

This paper identifies and addresses cultural barriers and successful strategies to viewing Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) as central to institutional mission and an essential component in the continuum of teaching, learning, and assessment. Interviews with leaders and practitioners from a diverse group of seven institutions located across the U.S. offer insights into challenges, strategies, and effective CPL practices.

Ryu, M. (2013). Credit for prior learning from the student, campus, and industry perspectives. Washington, DC: American Council on Education Center for Policy Research and Strategy. Retrieved from: Source

Drawing on survey responses from campus officials, students who participated in ACE-evaluated training programs, and employers, this research brief presents a snapshot of Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) in action and the areas of focus to increase its successful application.

Montenegro, E., & Jankowski, N. A. (2015, April). Focused on What Matters: Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes at Minority-Serving Institutions. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

This report features the assessment work being done at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). Four main findings are discussed including the internal use of assessment data at MSIs, using assessment data for improvement, different assessment approaches at different types of MSIs, and subcategories of MSIs use of assessment to address different institutional needs and interests.

Nuun-Ellison, K., Kapka, L., Myers, J., McGrew, H., Bernheisel, J., & Cutler, J. (2015). Practice what you preach. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

This report explores the lessons learned from Sinclair Community College’s strategy to improve the efficiency of assessment education practices for faculty and staff.

Los Angeles City College (2015). A handbook for the administrative services assessment process. Retrieved from: Source

This handbook explains the fundamentals of assessing service outcomes for all of Los Angeles City College’s administrative service units


Hutchings, P, Jankowski, N. A., & Kinzie, J. (2012) Assessment and the Degree Qualifications Profile PowerPoint. National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Recording of the webinar is available, as well: Assessment and the DQP (mov)

Schneider, C. G., & Ewell, P. (2013).  DQP and Implications for Assessment (mov) and PowerPoint (pdf). National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.