Oregon University System

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Oregon among eight states chosen for national initiative to improve undergraduate student learning

Contact: 
Di Saunders - Office: 503-725-5714; Cell: 971-219-6869;
diane_saunders@ous.edu

Source: 
Sona Karentz Andrews – 503-725-5758;
sona_andrews@ous.edu

Washington, DC—October 3, 2011 - The Oregon University System (OUS) announced today that it is one of eight state higher education systems selected to participate in a new project supported by the Lumina Foundation for Education which is designed to help improve student learning in eight states.  Sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), The Quality Collaboratives Initiative will provide $40,000 in funding to Oregon to support faculty and state system leaders working to improve the quality of undergraduate education. Oregon’s role in the project will be to assist examining policies to assure that students can demonstrate achievement of essential competencies across all areas and levels of learning, regardless of where they begin or end their educational journeys. 

Sona Karentz Andrews, vice chancellor of academic strategies for the OUS said, "The project advances Oregon’s higher education institutions to meet the 40-40-20 educational attainment goals for Oregon, and is part of ongoing collaborative efforts between OUS and the state’s network of community colleges to improve students’ learning experiences in Oregon’s colleges and universities. We are thankful for the support of the Lumina Foundation and the AAC&U to help ensure that our college students graduate with a strong core of skills and competencies that will help them in the workforce and in their lives."

The Quality Collaboratives Initiative is a three-year project that is part of AAC&U’s ongoing Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, and part of the Lumina Foundation’s testing of the value of a shared Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP).  Beginning in October 2011, the project will engage teams of educational, assessment, and policy leaders in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Two- and four-year institutions in each of these states have already been working extensively within the LEAP network of projects, states, and institutions on issues of learning outcomes, curricular change, high-impact practices, and assessment. They will all build on these prior efforts to improve the learning outcomes essential for success in life, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century.

“We must ensure that all students—including those from traditionally underrepresented groups and those who begin at a two-year institution and transfer to a four-year institution—achieve the most important outcomes of a college education,” said AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider.  “AAC&U is very pleased to build on our prior work on learning outcomes, assessment, curricular change, and transfer, and use the DQP as a vehicle to increase the quality of student learning.  This ground-breaking project will help chart a path by which we can increase completion rates while we also raise students’ levels of achievement.  Our students’ hopes for their futures depend specifically on the breadth and quality of their learning in college.”

The project is built on a consensus framework of learning outcomes—articulated in the DQP—that charts levels of competence which every college student should achieve and integrate in five areas: broad and specialized knowledge, intellectual skills, applied learning, and civic learning. Using this framework, the project will test a number of approaches to assessing these outcomes and developing educational practices that:

  • help students achieve essential outcomes at appropriately high levels;
  • document students’ attainment of outcomes; and
  • facilitate students’ transfer of courses and competencies from two-year to four-year institutions on their way to completing college degrees.

“It is exciting that so many states and campuses are eager to explore and develop measures of achievement for all students,” said AAC&U vice president and QC project director Terry Rhodes. “It is recognized in higher education, and echoed by employers, that it isn’t enough to simply earn a degree, but essential that the quality of learning and level of competence also be an integral part of determining degree attainment.”

Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities and one branch campus, 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

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 1,250 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size. Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at www.aacu.org.

Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change. For more information, log on to www.luminafoundation.org.