VALUE Research Hub

The Value of Community Building: One Center's Story of How the VALUE Rubrics Provided Common Ground


Jardeleza, S., Cognato, A., Gottfried, M., Kimbirauskas, R., Libarkin, J., Olson, R., Ording, G., Owen, J., Rasmussen, P., Stoltzfus, J., & Thomas, S. (2013). The Value of Community Building: One Center’s Story of How the VALUE Rubrics Provided Common Ground. Liberal Education, 99(3).


Although their structures and funding sources differ, Research I institutions and small liberal arts colleges share the same goal of helping students master the knowledge and skills that will enable them to become informed citizens who are able to contribute effectively a democratic society. But how can this transformation be achieved, and what metrics can be used to define success? To answer these questions, institutions must first identify student learning outcomes. According to Keeling and Hersh (2011), the next step is to link those goals to the general education curriculum. One way of evaluating learning outcomes at the institutional level is by applying the backward design method. This involves three steps: (1) identify desired results--in this case, student learning outcomes; (2) determine what constitutes acceptable evidence that the learning outcomes have been achieved by students; and (3) ensure proper alignment between instruction and curricula, a step that should result in improved student performance on the assessments. This should also involve the alignment of course-level goals and the assessment of student learning, both within individual classrooms and across curricula. The gap between student learning goals and curricula can be bridged using the rubrics that the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) developed through its Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) project (see Over the past two years, the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science at Michigan State University (MSU) has emerged a trailblazer with regard to the large-scale programmatic assessment of the liberal learning goals. In spring of 2012 AAC&U contacted MSU and invited its scientists to help evaluate the rubric for global learning that was then being developed as part of the association's VALUE project. In addition to providing AAC&U with feedback that was used to inform the subsequent revision of the VALUE rubric for global learning, the evaluation process provided an opportunity for the center's faculty to share ideas and resources across their own community of practice--and, therefore, across disciplinary boundaries. By engaging with the VALUE rubric, members of the faculty learning community were able to consider the metacognitive aspects of their own teaching, including consideration of where instruction fits into the broader context of general education science training at MSU. The integration of institution-specific goals for student learning with those specified by the VALUE rubric for global learning won broad support at MSU. The development of MSU's liberal learning goals and global competencies, along with their respective rubrics, and the adaptation of the VALUE rubrics have set the stage for the institution-wide evaluation of curricula and student learning outcomes.

Themes: Academic Achievement, College Outcomes Assessment, Communities of Practice, Educational Change, General education, Global Approach, Institutional Research, Michigan, Outcome Measures, Scoring rubrics, Test Construction