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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 sociology 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 twelve scholars with expertise on teaching, learning, and assessment in the discipline:
Jeanne Ballantine, Professor of Sociology, Wright State University
William Carbonaro, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Notre Dame
Paula England, Professor of Sociology, New York University
Susan Ferguson, Professor of Sociology, Grinnell College
Sally Hillsman, Executive Director, American Sociological Association
Katherine McClelland, Professor of Sociology, Franklin and Marshall College
Matthew McKeever, Professor of Sociology, Mount Holyoke College
Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
Richard Pitt, Associate Professor of Sociology, Vanderbilt University
Margaret Weigers Vitullo, Director, Academic and Professional Affairs, American Sociological Association
Theodore Wagenaar, Professor of Sociology, Miami University
Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Professor of Sociology, Swarthmore College
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 "Sociology 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).