CSB and SJU founding members of Presidents' Alliance to improve student learning

November 15, 2010

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are founding members of the Presidents' Alliance, which seeks to expand their efforts in gathering and reporting evidence of student learning and using it to improve outcomes.

More than 70 two- and four-year private and public colleges and universities nationwide have agreed to assist each other in this work, publicly report on their efforts and encourage other institutions to take similar steps.

The initiative, which was signed in July by CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger and SJU President the Rev. Robert Koopmann, OSB, was developed by the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, a non-profit advocacy-focused organization that leads and supports voluntary and cooperative efforts to move the higher education community toward gathering, reporting on and using evidence to improve student learning in American undergraduate education.

There are four commitments to the initiative:

  • Improving the gathering of evidence about student learning outcomes;
  • Expanding the use of evidence on student learning outcomes to improve programs and practices;
  • Expanding the reporting on student learning outcomes on- and off-campus to ensure transparency and accountability;
  • Expanding the noteworthy work on campuses to other institutions.

Among the projects CSB and SJU are initializing or conducting include:

  • On-going faculty-led, faculty-designed student outcomes assessment in almost all campus academic courses, programs, departments, divisions and at the institutional level. A major goal of the outcomes assessment is to improve teaching and learning.
  • Wabash 2010-2013 Study (http://www.liberalarts.wabash.edu/). Participation in the Wabash Study provides the schools with an opportunity to develop systematic approaches to measuring the impact of learning that occurs inside and outside of the major - ranging from the various components of the Common Curriculum not housed in particular academic departments to the extensive co-curricular learning opportunities led by CSB and SJU's Student Development divisions. The Wabash Study will help CSB and SJU evaluate and improve teaching and learning, and will focus on examining critical thinking and analytical reasoning in the Common Curriculum.
  • Collegiate Learning Assessment Pathways Project. The project, which is part of the Council of Independent Colleges/Collegiate Learning Assessment Consortium through 2012, supports a number of urban independent colleges and universities. The purpose of the project is to improve learning of "at-risk" students, such as first-generation students and those from low-income backgrounds. CSB and SJU are serving as control institutions in the study.
  • Teagle Foundation grant, "Systematic Assessment: Building Capacity and Closing the Loop." CSB and SJU are using funds from the grant to develop an expert faculty infrastructure with a skill and knowledge base that equips them to work alongside professional assessment staff in student outcomes assessment. Each year, a cohort of faculty and staff participate in CSB and SJU's "Assessment 101" yearlong workshop, which uses a hands-on approach to learn about and use postsecondary student outcomes assessment, and then linking the knowledge and experience gained to improve teaching and learning, demonstrating accountability, and improve assessment.
  • The schools' have created a Student Learning Outcomes website.