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Over the past two years a group of distinguished communication faculty worked on defining and measuring a set of learning outcomes for undergraduates in their field. The Measuring College Learning (MCL) project—organized by the Education Research Program at the Social Science Research Council—served to facilitate faculty consensus around a limited set of empirically measurable “essential concepts and competencies” that communication students should gain over time. Rather than striving to produce a set of exhaustive of comprehensive list of learning outcomes, the MCL frameworks that emerged serve as a jumping off point for departments and disciplinary associations.

The MCL communication panel was made up of ten scholars with expertise on teaching, learning, and assessment in the discipline:

Walid Afifi, Chair & Professor of Communication Studies, University of Iowa

Timothy Barney, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric & Communication Studies, University of Richmond

Steven Beebe, Chair and Professor of Communication Studies, Texas State University

Pat Ganer, Professor of Communication Studies, Cypress College

Nancy Kidd, Executive Director, National Communication Association

Joseph Mazer, Associate Chair and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Clemson University

Brad Mello, Professor and Chair of Communication, Saint Xavier University

Kevin Meyer, Assistant Professor of Communication, Illinois State University

Trevor Parry-Giles, Associate Director for Academic & Professional Affairs, National Communication Association

Ken Sereno, Associate Professor, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California

At the center of each of the MCL white papers is an innovative learning outcomes framework that articulates a set of “essential concepts and competencies” for undergraduate-level learning in the discipline. Essential concepts and competencies are deep understandings and complex skills that faculty believe are fundamental to the discipline, valuable to students, and worth emphasizing given limited time and resources. The MCL learning outcomes frameworks emerge from and are part of the MCL white papers, but they can be used as stand-alone resources.

The Measuring College Learning Project is committed to the idea that the articulated frameworks are part of an iterative process that will evolve and change over time. As part of plans for phase two of the project, we envision building out and piloting assessments based on the learning outcomes frameworks presented in the whitepaper. We look forward to the work to come, as part of a collaborative process with faculty, disciplinary associations, employer groups, and other stakeholders concerned with improving student learning in higher education.

Discipline specific project materials are available under the "Communication Tools + Resources" sidebar.

General project materials are available under the "General Tools + Resources" sidebar.

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