Grants in Higher Education



Click here for other projects in Outcomes and Assessment.

February 2009
Great Lakes College Association (GLCA), Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), and the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College
Study Abroad Learning and Cost Alliance | Project website
Project Leaders: Rick Detweiler


$214,863 over 37 months to support three complementary studies that are focused on the relationship of study abroad experiences and student learning: (1) The Learning from Study Abroad Project which will use the Learning from Study Abroad instrument (LSA) at a large scale (funded by a previous Teagle grant); (2) The Expanded Context for Liberal Arts Learning Project which will modify programming and curricular practices on the basis of data collected from the LSA; and (3) The Costs of Study Abroad Project which will run a cost analysis of study abroad programs.

Southern Education Foundation (SEF)
Accreditation, Quality Enhancement Plans and Documentation of Student Learning Outcomes
Project Leaders: Lynn Huntley


$300,000 over 36 months to support SEF member institutions in developing Quality Enhancement Plans (QEPs)—an important accreditation requirement of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools—especially as it relates to assessment and documentation of student learning outcomes.

November 2008
The Association of American Colleges and Universities
The Engaged Department: Building Cross-Departmental Faculty Leadership for Liberal Education Outcomes | Project website
Project Leaders: Terrel Rhodes


$303,969 over 24 months to develop and implement an annual summer institute focused on building faculty leadership within and across departments for the assessment and improvement of student achievement of liberal education outcomes. This project was developed with a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation.

November 2004
Appalachian College Association
Proof of Progress: Measuring Academic Achievement in Appalachian Colleges
Project Leaders: Alice Brown


$149,650 over 23 months. In 2002, under a grant from the Spencer Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Appalachian College Association (ACA) completed a study of alumni from the member colleges (all small private colleges in central Appalachia) and from a comparison group of public colleges, looking at graduates from five, fifteen and twenty-five years back and measuring the impact of the college experience on the lifestyles of the graduates. In 2005-2006, a new study, funded by Teagle, will focus on the academic gains, through the junior year, of students at 21 of the 35 ACA colleges. The resulting data will enable the colleges to analyze the effects of their primary academic program areas and make comparisons with normative data from across the nation as well as within the participating ACA colleges. Using the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiencies (CAAP), a test that has been available for more than 15 years, the project will allow the colleges to measure student progress in the acquisition of academic skills in general subject domains. Since most ACA students will have taken the ACT prior to entering colleges, the results of the CAAP tests will allow comparisons between pre- and post-college experiences to provide estimates of intellectual gains in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science and critical thinking. This project is intended to expand existing knowledge concerning the progress of students in these academic areas, looking at growth in a cross section of the academic domains to gain diagnostic as well as summative information. The results will provide us with a wealth of information, reflecting the progress our students make over time so that the colleges can adapt their academic programs to address areas of weakness.

Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), and the Great Lakes College Association
Learning Outcomes and Study Abroad (planning grant)
Project Leaders: Wayne Anderson (ACS), Richard Detweiler (GLCA), and Christopher Welna (ACM)


$60,000 over 12 months. The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), and Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) have received a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation to develop a project to assess varying models of study abroad programs for students at liberal arts colleges and to measure the learning outcomes that result from such programs. Two questions frame the consortia's joint efforts: 1) What are the goals of study abroad experiences, especially as part of the overall experience of acquiring a liberal arts education? and 2) How do we evaluate the effectiveness and the learning outcomes of these experiences?

ACM will develop a framework to analyze the goals of study abroad in the context of the stated educational goals of liberal education. This will include surveying the professional literature, collecting statements from catalogues and academic departments, and assessing goals articulated by students themselves. The parallel and complimentary focus of ACS and GLCA will be to collect information about the types of study abroad programs students use, to determine the varied aims of these programs, and to survey assessment tools currently in use to ascertain which ones are most appropriate for study abroad programs and liberal education. Results of this work will be disseminated to the 42 member colleges of the three consortia and to the broader higher education community and will support more comprehensive future assessment efforts in the study abroad context.

Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
Engaging Faculty with the Assessment of Liberal Education Outcomes
Project Leaders: Carol Geary Schneider


$150,000 over 18 months. With support from The Teagle Foundation, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) will provide a program of faculty development to consortia of colleges and universities working on assessment of liberal education outcomes. The self-identified consortial groups, invited to apply for funding from the Foundation, will be offered assistance with planning, implementation, and capacity building as they develop models of value-added and direct assessment of student learning. Included in the resources available will be access to assessment experts, individually tailored on-campus consultations, working meetings to introduce/review important concepts, materials (both printed and web-based), and opportunities for mutual exchange. Among the topics addressed will be the importance of clear learning outcomes as a basis for assessment; the potential of integrative capstone experiences to demonstrate and assess achievement; pathways of learning that include general education and the majors; curricular coherence; and research on how learning occurs and ways to enhance teaching effectiveness. The ultimate goal of AAC&U's facilitative work in this project is to foster faculty responsibility for the totality of undergraduate education and to do so in ways that allow for transparent assessment of important learning outcomes. A related goal is to provide national leadership for the liberal arts community on ways to assess student learning and achievement.

Council for Aid to Education (CAE)
Collegiate Learning Assessment: Informing Best Educational Practice
Project Leaders: Roger Benjamin


$300,000 over 36 months. The aim of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA): Informing Best Educational Practice project is to respond to the need for systematic measurement of the value added of liberal education and, in the long term, improve student learning outcomes in liberal arts colleges. There have been a number of major impediments to assessing liberal education outcomes. One is the seeming definitional flux of definitions of liberal education. A second is the lack of adequate measures to assess educational outcomes beyond information acquisition and comprehension. A third is the belief that the important effects of a liberal education cannot be measured until far beyond the college years. Finally, there is the belief held by some that liberal education neither can nor need be assessed - so powerful are its inherent virtues and our ability to know it when we see it. We seek to overcome these problems. Our Collegiate Learning Assessment project is focused on assessing a few selected undergraduate student outcomes such as critical thinking analytic reasoning, and writing skills that fall under the rubric of liberal education.

Excellence and quality should be determined by the degree to which an institution develops the abilities of its students. In the literature on higher education, the term "value added" often refers either to the value of having a college degree - in terms of income, job, and life satisfaction - or to the benefits derived from alternative programs, courses of study, and experiences within an institution. The CLA focuses on a third definition, which has to do with the institution as a whole. What difference does the institution make for its students? Is it more effective in making a difference now than in the past? Is it more effective than other similarly situated schools after controlling for the admissions scores and other relevant attributes of its incoming students? Measuring such value requires assessing what students know and can do as they begin college and assessing them again during and after they have had the full benefit of their college education. Value added is the difference a college makes in their education. Value added assessment is the most appropriate means for examining the institutional contribution to the growth of liberal education skills and is the core methodological principle of the CLA project.

Working with the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) consortium of liberal arts colleges we plan to show the practical benefits of the inter-institutional comparison opportunities afforded by the CLA. This goal is based on the argument that the rationale for creating a value added assessment metric is to help institutions of higher education improve their curricula and pedagogy in order to advance student learning. But the research to develop that assessment metric is a necessary but insufficient condition for such an endeavor. We also have to help institutions develop cultures of learning and cultures of assessment that see measurement of learning as an integral part of teaching and of the life of the institution. Thus, as we gather the results of our outcome measures on these campuses we are interested in investigating, through case studies, those campuses that do especially well (fall above the regression line for predicted student achievement) and those who fall below predictions. From these we will be able to derive those practices that seem to make a difference positively and/or impede student learning. More specifically, we intend to,

  • Identify areas of student learning where improvement is needed (using our measures and other assessments and indexes),

  • Develop strategies that are aimed at making improvements,

  • Help colleges assess whether the strategies they selected are implemented as planned (and if not, why not),

  • Measure the effects of the strategies that were actually implemented.

There are several metrics that we will use to evaluate the results of this project. The most basic metric will be the value added results themselves - how many institutions are found to produce greater than expected results versus how many are found to produce less than expected results? The research design, described above, ensures that the project's progress will be monitored on an annual basis. As has been the case in the past, results of the project will be published in peer-reviewed journals. The results themselves, i.e., the answers to the research questions posed above, will comprise the evaluation of the project's impact in the near term. The outcome metric to be used will be the value added scores produced through the use of the CLA and GRE type assessment instruments. In addition, there are important associated questions to answer that will indicate the level of success of the project. (1) How many institutions, and at what degree of detail, use the CLA and the process we have developed to guide its use, in concert with other measures, to make changes in their curriculum and pedagogy by the end of this project? (2) How many institutions commit to continue to use the CLA, in combination with other measures, after the project ends? In other words, how many institutions embed the CLA and the process of implementing it in their curriculum and pedagogical reform for the long term? (3) In the long run, does the CLA assist liberal arts colleges in adding more value in liberal education to their students?

Dissemination of the research will be undertaken in a number of ways: conference presentations; research journal articles; popular press; web site postings; presentation of results by our researchers on individual campuses.

Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
Using CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment) to Measure Value Added at Liberal Arts Colleges | Project website
Project Leaders: Rich Ekman


$250,000 over 36 months. The Teagle Foundation has awarded the Council of Independent Colleges a $250,000 grant for use over three years to foster a new way for institutions to measure what students have learned. The grant supports work with a consortium of 32 small and mid-sized private colleges and universities administering the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), developed by the RAND Corporation's Council for Aid to Education. These institutions are among the earliest adopters of the CLA and have chosen it as their main approach to assessment of student learning. The CLA assesses the "value-added" by a college education in three areas-critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communication.

The grant to CIC will enable participating institutions, through meetings and technical assistance, to share strategies for effectively administering the CLA as well as to compare educational practices that lead to significant learning gains. The consortium will administer the CLA to freshmen and seniors. Representatives of the institutions will meet annually in a summer workshop, together with CIC and CAE staff, and other experts, to learn from one another.

In addition, the grant supports consultation by CIC and CAE staff with other colleges and universities that the Foundation is funding in "informal consortia" for assessment projects. Those projects include some based on use of the CLA as well as some taking other approaches to the important matter of value-added learning.

The members of the CIC/CLA Consortium are: