LEAP Publications

The Quality of a College Degree

This report examines the larger policy environment and how it is and isn’t aligned with current efforts to focus on assessment of key student learning outcomes, especially in the context of transfer. It builds on lessons learned in AAC&U's DQP Quality Collaboratives project.  Authors provide recommendations for framing policy debates about more efficient and effective transfer from two-year to four-year institutions that account for students’ achievement of key learning outcomes articulated in the Degree Qualifications Profile. The publication also provides a framework for better aligning state and campus policies with a twenty-first-century vision of quality learning and with current patterns of student attendance.  Ideal for campus discussions about improving transfer student success and collecting better data on student achievement, the publication also includes case studies from two-year/four-year Quality Collaboratives campus partners.

Giving California Students a Compass

Final Report of "Give Students a Compass" in California, May, 2015

Too many students who begin college in the California State University (CSU) or California Community College (CCC) systems with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree don’t make it. Of degree-seeking students who entered a CSU in 2007, just over half graduated six years later (California State University, 2013). Of students who entered a CCC the same year and demonstrated intent to transfer—that is, completed at least 12 units and attempted transfer-level math or English—just over one-third had transferred after six years (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, 2013).

In California and across the United States, there is growing interest in how colleges and universities can improve student success, not only by increasing rates of bachelor’s degree completion but also ensuring high-quality learning for all students. General Education (GE)—the part of the curriculum that all...

Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: A Campus Guide for Self-Study and Planning

Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: A Campus Guide for Self-Study and Planning provides a framework for needed dialogue, assessment, and action to address inequities in higher education institutions. Focusing on issues of access and success, it can be used as a tool for bringing together campus leaders and practitioners—across divisions and departments—to engage in internal assessment and chart a path forward to improve all students’ success and achievement of key learning outcomes. The Guide is designed with a particular focus on the success of students who come from groups traditionally underserved in higher education.

Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: A Campus Guide for Self-Study and Planning is recommended for use in combination with AAC&U’s America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative for Equity in Higher Education and ...

Step Up & Lead for Equity: What Higher Education Can Do to Reverse Our Deepening Divides

STEP UP & LEAD for Equity: What Higher Education Can Do to Reverse Our Deepening Divides makes the case that America’s persistent gaps in education, income, and wealth are widening, with the fastest growing segments of our population the least likely to have the opportunities they need to succeed.It argues that, to effectively educate today’s students, higher education must focus more urgently on equity—and on bringing together what we know about closing achievement gaps and advancing high-quality learning outcomes for all students. This brochure builds the case for leadership to challenge the status quo and make the most empowering forms of college learning available to all students. STEP UP & LEAD for Equity is a Call to Action, supported by clear and convincing data, for college leaders to accept this challenge and begin this work by examining their own institutions’ history and data to develop an action plan. It is ideal for advancing...

The LEAP Challenge: Educating for a World of Unscripted Problems

The LEAP Challenge builds on a decade of LEAP reform efforts on campus to advance Essential Learning Outcomes and high-impact educational practices for all students. The LEAP Challenge calls on colleges and universities to engage students in signature work that will prepare them to integrate and apply their learning to a significant project.

The VALUE Breakthrough: Getting the Assessment of Student Learning in College Right

Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education—AAC&U's VALUE initiative—is a far-reaching effort to focus assessment on the work students produce in their progress toward a degree. By focusing on assignments produced for a degree program rather than on answers on time-limited standardized tests, VALUE has become a national movement to change the way we envision and approach the assessment of student learning gains and accomplishments in college. The VALUE Breakthrough explains succinctly and directly the progress and importance of this movement. Author Daniel Sullivan tells us how VALUE relates both to the larger aims of a quality liberal education, to the capabilities employers seek and reward, and to the public policy pressures of our current environment.

How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment

Students, parents, and policy makers interested in the "return on investment" of college education tend to place unwarranted emphasis on the choice of undergraduate major, often assuming that a major in a liberal arts field has a negative effect on employment prospects and earnings potential. This new report—which includes data on earnings, employment rates, graduate school earnings bumps, and commonly chosen professions— presents clear evidence to the contrary. It shows not only that the college degree remains a sound investment, especially in these difficult economic times, but also that— as compared to students who major in professional, preprofessional, or STEM fields— liberal arts majors fare very well in terms of both earnings and long-term career success.

Investing in Success: Cost-Effective Strategies to Increase Student Success

This publication provides advice and planning tools to help educational leaders invest in high-impact practices, despite budget constraints. It presents ways to evaluate both the benefits and costs of high-impact practices, and strategies for investing in innovations. Building on research from the Access to Success initiative and the Delta Cost Project, the authors provide examples of campuses that have made wise investments developing or scaling particular practices, with positive results for student learning, graduation rates, and the bottom line.

Assessing Underserved Students Engagement in High-Impact Practices

This publication presents findings from a national study conducted by AAC&U researchers to investigate the impact of engagement in high-impact practices on traditionally underserved populations (defined here as first-generation, minority, transfer, and low-income students).The mixed-method analysis includes student-level data on engaged learning at thirty-eight participating institutions-from the state higher education systems in California, Oregon, and Wisconsin-drawn from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), as well as qualitative data obtained through student focus groups held at nine selected campuses. This report serves as a guide for campus-based inquiry to further our understanding of underserved student engagement with high-impact practices. The publication also includes a toolkit on assessing equity in high-impact practices developed by the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California. This project is funded by TG Philanthropy. ...

Using the VALUE Rubrics for Improvement of Learning and Authentic Assessment

This publication addresses key elements of, and questions frequently raised about, the development and use of the VALUE rubrics for assessment of student learning. It provides information about rubric-based assessment approaches—including validity, reliability, and rubric modification—and faculty training in the use of rubrics. Specific examples of how campuses are using the VALUE rubrics to improve student learning are also provided. Full case studies from twelve campuses are available online at www.aacu.org/value/casestudies.