Quality Collaboratives: Assessing and Reporting Degree Qualifications Profile Competencies in the Context of Transfer

Quality Collaboratives: Assessing and Reporting Degree Qualifications Profile Competencies in the Context of Transfer is a three-year project launched with support from the Lumina Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as a part of AAC&U’s ongoing Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative. Beginning in October 2011, AAC&U engaged teams of educational, assessment, and policy leaders in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Dakota, 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 build on these prior efforts to clarify, map, assess, and improve the achievement of learning outcomes essential for success in life, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. New: Download the project's three-year update summary

The project is built on a consensus framework of learning outcomes—articulated in the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP). The DQP 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 family of assessment approaches that assess learning demonstrated in samples of students' actual work. This family of approaches will help campuses develop 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 institutions to four-year institutions on their way to completing college degrees.

Each system and state already is actively engaged in learning outcomes work, with AAC&U and/or with the Lumina Foundation’s Tuning initiative; each has adopted, either at the system level or the campus level or both, a set of learning outcomes that are highly compatible with the DQP; each is contributing to the development of recommended policies—for reporting student achievement and for more nimble designs for transfer—that must be created if the DQP is to achieve its intended catalytic effect in U.S. higher education; and seven of the nine states have enlisted both two- and four-year transfer partner campuses as pilot sites.

The Quality Collaboratives

Two- and four-year campus transfer partners are designing practices and strategies for assessing student competencies as the basis for student transfer between their respective campuses. Twenty campuses in the participating states are at work on assessment strategies, policy modifications, and faculty engagement in exploring the obstacles and opportunities for these new approaches for demonstrating and communicating the quality of student learning, not simply the accumulation of credit hours and courses.

Strands of Work

  • Assessment – Sets of assessment tools and strategies—field-tested by the QC partners—that can be used to track and demonstrate student competence on DQP outcomes across levels of learning.
  • Policy – Expanded frameworks for documenting student success that include persistence metrics, but go beyond them to include DQP competency and quality indicators.
  • Faculty Leadership and Development - Recommended practices and demonstration sites for fostering DQP faculty leadership; Engagement with these professionals, including contingent and part-time faculty and other transfer related professionals, to foster, align and assess expected learning outcomes across both general and field-specific areas of learning; Development of an open-access online toolkit to support DQP faculty leadership development.

Program Goals

Project Outcomes

This initiative addresses the need to develop public reporting frameworks that combine quality of learning with completion or productivity metrics. The project seeks to integrate multiple meanings of student success (degree completion and demonstrated accomplishment) by combining commonly used persistence and completion metrics with demonstrated competency metrics. Drawing from the experience of the project participants, the initiative will make recommendations about needed changes in transfer policy and practice.

The initiative will work concertedly to develop a cadre of faculty and academic leaders— at the campus level and in the context of participating community college and state systems— who can both sustain this work and educate others on how to make the DQP a catalyst for significant improvement both in the levels of student learning and in the context of transfer. The initiative will connect the DQP with ongoing faculty development efforts on each participating campus and in participating state and/or community college systems.