Beyond Assessment: Assuring Student Learning in Higher Education.
Setting up an 'Assurance of Learning' (AoL) system in line with requirements for accreditation is generally perceived to be a challenging task in both theory and practice. This paper provides an overview of the AoL system developed by the Faculty of Commerce and Administration to meet the requirements for accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and describes its rationale, results achieved to date, and current challenges. The Faculty's system draws on the use of graduate attributes (Barrie, 2004), constructive alignment (Biggs, 1999), quality systems (Deming, 1982) and Theory of Constraints (Goldratt, 1994). In particular, individual student assessment is used to provide programme-level assurance of learning of graduate attributes. AoL's focus on 'closing the loop' – using student cohort performance data to inform system level change so that more students achieve the overall programme-level learning goals – is illustrated through a number of examples. While AoL developments have been led largely by business schools, we argue that wider adoption would allow universities to back up their claims about their students' achievement of graduate attributes, moving towards assuring, not just assessing, student learning.