Minority-Serving Institutions Are More Apt to Use Learning Gauges Internally

Report: “Focused on What Matters: Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes at Minority-Serving Institutions”

Authors: Erick Montenegro and Natasha A. Jankowski

Organizations: National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment and Penn Center for Minority-Serving Institutions

Summary: Minority-serving institutions are more likely than those that predominantly serve white students to use assessments of student learning for internal purposes, such as strategic planning and budgeting.

They are also more likely to use internally developed assessments, like classroom-based evaluations (74 percent for minority-serving to 61 percent for predominantly white) and placement examinations (74 percent to 59 percent). Meanwhile, minority-serving institutions are less prone to administer national student surveys like the National Survey of Student Engagement (72 percent vs. 84 percent), probably because of the cost.

Those findings suggest an area of concern, the authors write, because minority-serving institutions are not being adequately portrayed in the national picture of student learning.

The high rate at which minority-serving institutions use assessment data seems to reflect a desire to counter skepticism about their academic quality, the authors note. Those institutions teach about 40 percent of all underrepresented students.

Results are based on a survey of provosts at 147 minority-serving and 765 predominantly white colleges.

Bottom Line: Demographic trends indicate that the ranks of college students will grow increasingly diverse. Collecting data on the methods being used to gauge the learning of students from underrepresented groups is a first step in figuring out how to serve them better.

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