Is There a Rubric for That? A Decade of VALUE and the Future of Higher Education

January 23, 2019 / Atlanta, Georgia

About the Symposium

VALUE at 10First introduced in 2009 as an alternative to the predominant educational assessment paradigm—standardized tests—the VALUE rubrics have arguably moved from the periphery of student outcomes assessment to the center of conversations about the quality of student learning within and across institutions. As of 2018, the rubrics have been downloaded more than 61,000 times by individuals representing nearly 5,900 organizations, including more than 2,188 colleges and universities.

More than measurement tools, the VALUE rubrics represent an entirely different approach to assessment, one that was purposefully designed to be both an articulation of commonly held essentials representing a collective understanding of a quality undergraduate education, as well as an intentionally malleable approach to making sense of learning at an individual institution, one that could be changed as necessary to meet local needs and nuances.

With faculty expertise at the heart of VALUE, it is the only framework for programmatic and institutional assessment based on the authentic work of students taken from assignments embedded in the curricula and co-curricula of our institutions.

The VALUE Symposium will celebrate “VALUE at 10” by revisiting its roots, examining the current trajectory of assessing for learning and quality in higher education, and engaging participants in shaping its future.


8:45 – 10:15 AM

In the Beginning: A LEAP of Faith

The VALUE Symposium celebrates “VALUE at 10.” The Opening Plenary begins the journey by revisiting VALUE’s roots, examining the genesis of the current trajectory in assessing for learning and quality in higher education through the eyes of participants involved in various ways in shaping the VALUE rubric approach to assessment for learning.

Trudy W. Banta, Professor and Vice Chancellor Emerita, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Johnnella Butler, Professor of Comparative Women’s Studies, Spelman College

George D. Kuh, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Higher Education, Indiana University, and Senior Scholar, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Terrel Rhodes, Vice President, Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment, and Executive Director of VALUE

Carol Geary Schneider, Fellow, Lumina Foundation, and President Emerita, AAC&U

Jamienne S. Studley, President, WASC Senior College and University Commission

Moderator:  Dan Berrett, Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education


10:30 – 11:15 AM


Ignite sessions are short (45-minute) presentations intended to spark discussion on hot topics associated with VALUE. Each Ignite session facilitator has been invited to bring their unique perspectives on VALUE to the program, to affirm as well as challenge by engaging in participants in robust conversations— conversations that we hope will continue beyond the symposium and the Annual Meeting.


Ignite Session #1
The Promise and Peril of the VALUE Rubrics

The VALUE approach to assessing student learning has moved from an “alternative” practice to one that is decidedly mainstream over the past ten years. This session will push participants to consider methodological and pedagogical challenges facing the VALUE approach, with an eye toward further improving higher education assessment practice writ large.

Facilitator: David A. Eubanks, Assistant Vice President for Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, Furman University


Ignite Session #2
Navigating the Methodological Challenges Inherent to Small Colleges and Small Programs

Size is a relative strength of smaller colleges and universities, as these institutions are known for smaller classes, close student-faculty relationships, and a tight-knit sense of community. From a methodological perspective, however, smaller colleges—and their relatively smaller programs—present unique challenges for assessment. This session will engage participants in thinking through strategies to promote excellent assessment practice while navigating a world of “small n’s.”

Facilitator: Bethany Miller, Director of Institutional Research & Assessment, Cornell College


Ignite Session #3
Taking Charrettes to Scale:
Professional and Faculty Development Across the Commonwealth

This session will highlight how one state system office, building off of the assignment design charrette protocol pioneered by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), helped take faculty and professional development on teaching, learning, and assessment to scale to try to meet the needs of faculty and academic leaders in ways that did not make inordinate demands of their time and resources. Highlighted strategies include virtual assignment design charrette sessions and using the charrette process to help institutions design more dynamic assessment plans and assessment reports.

Facilitator: Jodi Fisler, Associate for Assessment Policy and Analysis, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia


Ignite Session #4

What Others Are Saying:
VALUE in the Literature

As part of its interrogation of the validity of the VALUE approach, AAC&U has organized a database of VALUE-related literature spanning nearly fifteen years, from rubric development to the present. This session will provide participants with a thematic overview of the body of literature related to VALUE, with special attention to areas of inquiry by researchers and practitioners from the field. The presenters will also preview the new AAC&U research resource coming online in early 2019.

Facilitators:  Bethany Zimmerman, Research Associate, and Erin Horan, Postdoctoral Research Analyst, AAC&U


11:30 AM – 12:15 PM

Ignite Session #5
Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence:
The Meaning of Zero in VALUE Scoring

A zero score on the VALUE rubric for a particular dimension represents and “absence of evidence” of student learning, but the source and nature of that score is more challenging to identify. Is it a reflection of a student’s true performance, or a function of a gap or misalignment between the assignment itself and the VALUE rubric at hand? How should we understand scores of zero, and what should we do with them? This session will invite participants to strategize about the best ways to tackle the “zero” challenge in the VALUE approach to assessment.

Facilitator: John Hathcoat, Assistant Professor of Graduate Psychology and Associate Director of University Learning Outcomes Assessment, James Madison University


Ignite Session #6
VALUE and the Equity Imperative

Any conversation around the quality of student learning is inextricably linked to issues of equity, but for too long our assessment of student learning has focused on looking at averages across all students. Our failure to disaggregate to truly interrogate quality and student success represents not only a methodological gap in our work, but an ethical one. This session will explore the ways in which future assessment work – including but not limited to the VALUE approach – can and must promote equity as foundational to and inseparable from our conceptions of quality.

Facilitator: Denise Pearson, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Equity Initiatives, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)


Ignite Session #7
Time to Let Students Run Assessment:
Getting Wicked with the VALUES Rubrics

What is we got truly “wicked” let students run assessment? This session will explore the potential pedagogical power we could unleash if, instead of being data points, students were driving the quality conversation when it came to their own learning. Participants will brainstorm, dream, and strategize about how tapping into student agency through shared ownership of the means by which students are measured could transform our thinking and our teaching, learning, and assessment practices.

Facilitator: Paul Hanstedt, Professor of English and Director of Pedagogical Innovation, Roanoke College


12:30 – 1:45 PM

The Landscape of Learning:
What We Know, What It Means

Gianina Baker, Assistant Director, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Kate Drezek McConnell, Senior Director, Research and Assessment, AAC&U

C. Edward Watson, Associate Vice President, Quality, Advocacy, and LEAP Initiatives, AAC&U

Daniel F. Sullivan, Senior Fellow, AAC&U


2:00 – 3:00 PM

Campus and System Perspectives will offer participants an opportunity to learn how campus colleagues are using VALUE to improve student learning, support faculty innovation and development, and meet accreditation standards.

Campus & System Perspective #1
Leading from Experimentation to Scale: The Massachusetts System Story

Robert J. Awkward, Director of Learning Outcomes Assessment, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education


Campus & System Perspective #2
VALUE as a Catalyst for Conversation and Change at a Research University

Bridget G. Trogden, Associate Dean for Engagement and General Education and Associate Professor of Engineering and Science Education, Clemson University

Session Resource


Campus & System Perspective #3
A Strategic Vision for Global Learning:
The Liberal Arts Experience

David Blair, Associate Vice President for Institutional Research and Assessment, St. Edward’s University

Session Resource


Campus & System Perspective #4
VALUE, Assessment, and ePortfolios:
A Community College Perspective

David Hubert, Associate Provost, Office of Learning Advancement, Salt Lake Community College; Emily Dibble, ePortfolio Coordinator, Salt Lake Community College


3:15 – 4:00 PM

The Future of VALUE:
Conversation and Crowd-Sourcing

We invite participants to help set priorities and shape the future development of the VALUE rubric approach to assessing quality learning on a variety of fronts over the next decade.

Discussions facilitated by Loraine H. Phillips, Associate Provost for Academic Effectiveness, Georgia Institute of Technology


4:00 – 4:30 PM

VALUE 2.0: Quality, Equity, and the Public Good

Lynn Pasquerella, President, and Terrel Rhodes, Vice President, Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment, and Executive Director of VALUE—both of AAC&U