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VALUE FAQs

What does VALUE stand for?

What is LEAP?

How were the VALUE rubrics created?

How were the learning outcomes chosen?

What do the VALUE rubrics look like?

Can I use the VALUE rubrics?

What are signature assignments?

How is training on using the VALUE rubrics typically implemented?

What research has been conducted on the VALUE rubrics to date?

How can the VALUE rubrics be used for assessment and accreditation?

What about standardized tests? Are you saying they are ineffective at measuring learning?

If a university or college decides it wants to improve the proficiency of all undergraduate students, how can it use VALUE rubrics to do that?

Is this system designed to judge publicly the effectiveness of individual faculty members?


What does VALUE stand for?

VALUE stands for Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education. VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) is a campus-based assessment approach developed and lead by AAC&U as part of its Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.

What is LEAP?

Launched in 2005, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) is a national public advocacy and campus action initiative of the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). LEAP champions the importance of a quality twenty-first-century education—for every student and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality. LEAP not only supports rigorous specialized knowledge mastery, but equally the critical need to know how, when, and why to use their knowledge to solve problems and apply it in typical as well as new and innovative circumstances.

How were the VALUE rubrics created?

In 2009, AAC&U initiated and oversaw bringing teams of faculty experts and other educational professionals from member institutions together to envision, draft, and refine the 16 VALUE rubrics. Through review of the literature, extant rubrics, and their own experience, rubric teams identified key criteria broadly shared regarding critical dimensions of achievement for each student learning proficiency. The rubrics were field tested by faculty on over 150 campuses across the country.

How were the learning outcomes chosen?

The 16 learning outcomes represented by the VALUE rubrics were based on AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Essential Learning Outcomes proficiencies for achievement across the associate and baccalaureate levels. Additionally, the VALUE rubrics are aligned with the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP). The DQP offers reference points for what students in any field, whether associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s level, should be able to know, learn, and do. These reference points are aligned with the learning outcomes in the LEAP initiative and, thus, the VALUE rubrics.

What do the VALUE rubrics look like?

All 16 VALUE rubrics can be previewed and downloaded at: http://www.aacu.org/value-rubrics. A diagram of the parts of the VALUE rubric can be downloaded at: http://www.aacu.org/parts-value-rubric.

Can I use the VALUE rubrics?

Individuals are welcome to reproduce the VALUE rubrics for use in the classroom, on educational web sites, and in campus intra-institutional publications. Please be sure to credit AAC&U. VALUE rubrics can also be used in commercial databases, software, or assessment products, but prior permission from AAC&U is required. For information on acceptable use of the VALUE rubrics, as well as how to reference and cite the rubrics, visit: How to Cite the VALUE Rubrics.

What are signature assignments?

Signature assignments are assignments, problems, or projects that are tailored to require students to demonstrate their expected learning for assessing and improving student learning. When assignments are created with instructions that reflect the VALUE rubrics, student learning can be much better assessed.

AAC&U is working to collect sample signature assignments that illustrate specifically  the core dimensions of learning reflected in the VALUE rubrics. In the interim, sample signature assignments are available through the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) Assignment Library, a product of the Lumina Foundation for Education, at http://www.assignmentlibrary.org/.

How is training on using the VALUE rubrics typically implemented?

Training on using the VALUE rubrics can differ from campus to campus but typically implements a calibration procedure to ensure all scorers are understanding the rubric and applying the rubric to student work in the same manner.

What research has been conducted on the VALUE rubrics to date?

In a report titled On Solid Ground released on February 23, 2017, AAC&U shared the results from the first two years of data collection for the VALUE Initiative, a nationwide project that examines direct evidence of student learning.

This new report on the groundbreaking VALUE approach to assessing student learning shows it is possible to evaluate undergraduate students’ achievement by using existing material and without relying on standardized tests. It represents the first attempt to reveal the landscape of student performance on key learning outcomes—Critical Thinking, Written Communication, and Quantitative Literacy—that educators, employers, and policy makers agree are essential for student success in the workplace and in life. Access the full report, infographic and press release here.

Research on the validity and reliability of the VALUE rubrics is ongoing at AAC&U and can be found at http://www.aacu.org/current-value-research.

How can the VALUE rubrics be used for assessment and accreditation?

The VALUE rubrics are recognized by all regional accrediting organizations as an acceptable approach for institutions to use in assessing student learning. The advantage to using VALUE rubrics compared to, for example, a standardized test across departments or majors is the rubrics draw on the expertise of faculty by using existing assignments and student work to assess student learning. Nothing new needs to be created; existing student work is scored using the VALUE rubrics.

What about standardized tests? Are you saying they are ineffective at measuring learning?

A standardized test such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) takes a snapshot of a sample of students at a particular time and is voluntary, so it measures some learning of some students. Because these tests are almost always taken by volunteers, and carry no consequences, research shows that students are not motivated to do their best work on them. Moreover, good psychometric practice rejects the idea of using any single measure as a proxy either for individual student proficiency or for institutional evaluation. Finally, information from a particular test, because it is disconnected from specific curricula, and typically does not provide detailed or specific areas of learning strength or needed improvement, provides little help for students or faculty to identify areas in which to focus their own efforts to achieve higher levels of mastery.

The VALUE rubrics were developed to answer the need to measure the development and application over time of the essential learning proficiencies that college graduates need in order to be productive in work and in citizenship. By assessing students’ most motivated, best work done in their curricula, those who evaluate the level of achievement get a fuller picture of how much a student’s knowledge and skills have grown and matured during college.

If a university or college decides it wants to improve the proficiency of all undergraduate students, how can it use VALUE rubrics to do that?

An institution can undertake a study focusing on key proficiencies. It can decide, for example, to measure the development of students’ critical thinking and written communication through the general education curriculum. A team of faculty members and others can assess authentic, problem-centered student work at the beginning, middle, and end of that series of courses, measuring the aggregate improvement in those two skills over time. If institutional leaders and faculty decide that the level of development is lower than expected (e.g., if students are unable to provide evidence to support an argument) they now can target where interventions can be included in courses and assignments and assess the learning again after those changes take place. For example, assignments could be modified to elicit specific learning improvements in order to see if improvement occurs, or evidence-based high-impact teaching and learning practices may be implemented to lead to better learning outcomes.

Is this system designed to judge publicly the effectiveness of individual faculty members?

VALUE has one goal: to help all students achieve the levels of proficiency necessary for success. It takes a faculty and program working collectively to help students achieve high levels of demonstrated accomplishment. As an institution gathers solid evidence of what teaching and learning practices consistently lead to required proficiencies, faculty will be more likely to adopt those evidence-based practices. The process of continuous improvement built into the VALUE project, in other words, is based on carrots and not sticks. AAC&U's on-going initiative with the Multi-State Collaborative (MSC) and select private institutions is developing a process for establishing nationwide benchmarks for learning based on the VALUE rubrics, collected from two- and four-year campuses across the country and scored by faculty to create a landscape of learning on all of the Essential Learning Outcomes.