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Oregon one of three states chosen to participate in initiative to improve student learning in college

Contact:
Endi Hartigan; Office: 503-725-5702; Cell: 503-929-5234
Elisabeth Zinser; Cell: 541-646-6109

California & Wisconsin also part of multi-state effort administered by Association of American Colleges and Universities

Portland, Oregon, July 28, 2008 – The Oregon University System (OUS) announced today that Oregon is one of three states that will participate in a new initiative sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and supported by a $560,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The initiative is designed to improve general education outcomes of college students. Working with public higher education systems in Oregon, California, and Wisconsin, the initiative, Give Students a Compass, will develop a multi-state partnership to strengthen the quality of undergraduate student learning.

“We’re very excited about being a part of AAC&U’s effort to ensure that students reach the levels of learning that they need to succeed in the global economy and society,” said George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the OUS. “While universities have traditionally emphasized and assessed student learning within individual courses and programs, there are increasing calls to raise the standards of the overall quality of learning across a student’s college experience. This includes more effectively communicating learning expectations, expanding the use of high impact teaching and learning practices on student success, developing assessment methods that give students and program faculty better measures of complex intellectual skills and knowledge, and communicating meaningful and clear evidence of student learning to governing boards and stakeholders,” added Pernsteiner.

Give Students a Compass will support public higher education reform efforts by actively involving community college and BA degree-granting institutions, school and college leaders, and business partners. Carol Geary Schneider, president of the AAC&U, said, “All students deserve the benefits of a purposeful and engaged liberal education. We are very pleased that this new support from the Carnegie Corporation will enable us to bring together educational leaders in three large public state systems of higher education to work to ensure that their students achieve the levels of learning they need for success.”

The primary goals of the 2-year initiative include:

  1. Establishing 21st century aims and outcomes for general education programs to successfully prepare students for global, civic and economic challenges facing Americans;
  2. Adopting general education and assessment designs that foster integrated learning and demonstrate students’ accomplishments and what they have learned;
  3. Gathering and using evidence about practices that support underserved students; and
  4. Providing education “roadmaps” that help transfer students achieve their educational goals even as they attend multiple institutions.

In the fall of 2007, the Oregon University System undertook the task of advancing the complex issue of student learning outcomes and meaningful assessment. The three expectations for the OUS effort include:

  1. Engaging faculty in defining student learning outcomes that really matter, teaching practices most effective in achieving them, and valid/reliable methods of assessing them, while having genuine meaning for stu­dents and their learning; and aligning this work with K-12 schools and community colleges;
  2. Connecting this work in meaningful ways to the State Board of Higher Education’s long-term plan, specifically to performance bench­marks for campus achievement; and
  3. Using language and numbers that make sense to legislators, building understanding and trust, and improving and stabilizing state investment of resources in postsecondary education.

Spearheading the effort for Oregon is former Southern Oregon University president, Elisabeth Zinser, now a special assistant to the chancellor. Zinser said, “Oregon is at the leading edge of an important national movement in improving and assessing student learning. Being a part of the AAC&U effort complements and accelerates work that began in Oregon last year in this area which has been coordinated by the OUS Provosts’ Council. This is another example of cross-cutting efforts in Oregon with our K-12 and community college partners, and part of the broad unified education enterprise focus that has been led and supported by Governor Kulongoski,” said Zinser.

Governor Kulongoski said, “Success in assuring effective student learning in college is as important as success in getting students prepared before college, opening doors to their entry into college, and helping them complete their degree. It’s all part of a student success continuum that we’re working very hard to improve for Oregon’s students and for the benefit of the state.”

Oregon University System (OUS) comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of twelve members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu 

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,150 accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size. For more information, go to: www.aacu.org

AAC&U’s press release on this effort can by found at www.aacu.org/press_room/press_releases/2008/carnegie.cfm


The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of twelve members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu

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