About the MCL Project 

The Measuring College Learning (MCL) project is excited to disseminate, beginning in May 2016, Improving Quality in American Higher Education: Learning Outcomes and Assessments for the 21st Century, as well as supplemental tools and resources to support improved student learning in higher education.

The MCL project began in 2013 as an opportunity to engage faculty and the broader higher education community in an effort to develop tools to understand and improve discipline-specific student learning. Faculty are often absent in policy debates about student learning, and most current attempts to articulate and demonstrate learning have focused on generic competencies, not discipline-specific learning that occurs in students’ majors. In the MCL project, faculty and other experts have come together to consider what students should learn in their majors and how that learning should be measured. Panels of experts from six disciplines have participated in the project: biology, business, communication, economics, history, and sociology.

In the short term, MCL is generating resources that will support productive department- and discipline-level efforts to articulate goals for student learning and measure students’ progress toward those goals. It is also building resources that could serve to facilitate fruitful dialogues between faculty and employers, who have a mutual interest in preparing students for the workforce. In the years to come, we hope to continue this progress by working with faculty and employers to develop 21st Century assessment tools that will demonstrate the value of each of the MCL disciplines, inform instructional improvements, facilitate student transfer, and improve the hiring process. Initial funding for the business, biology, communication, economics, and sociology strands was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Teagle Foundation provided initial funding for the history strand of the project.

Throughout, MCL has been guided by the following five principles:

  • Faculty-driven: Faculty should be at the center of defining and developing learning goals for undergraduates.
  • Student-focused: Students from all backgrounds and institutions should be given a fair opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills when transferring from one institution to another and when transitioning into the workforce.
  • High-quality: Measures of student learning should be rigorous and high quality and should yield data that allow for comparisons over time and across institutions.
  • Voluntary: Assessment tools should be used by institutions on a voluntary basis.
  • Multiple Measures: Any single measure of student learning should be part of a larger holistic assessment plan.

About the MCL Resource Center 

The MCL Resource Center is a place for faculty, departments, and institutions to find tools and resources to support student learning. Based on the work of our MCL faculty expert panels, each discipline specific page has useful materials for teaching, learning, and assessment.

Each discipline's homepage has the following resources available for free download:

  • Discipline Specific MCL White Paper
  • Discipline Specific MCL Learning Outcomes Frameworks

General project materials are accessible on the "MCL Tools and Resources" sidebar of this page.

These resources are also available in Improving Quality in American Higher Education: Learning Outcomes and Assessments for the 21st Century (Jossey Bass, 2016).