The SSRC’s Measuring College Learning (MCL) project has concluded its first phase in developing faculty-derived learning outcomes for a diverse set of undergraduate majors. In this essay, Richard Arum and Eleanor Blair discuss the intention and scope of the project, as well as detailing how they arrived at the result of their work, Improving Quality in American Higher Education. Faculty panels convened across six disciplines found, despite their diversity, that learning in majors should cohere principally around concepts and competencies, rather than content knowledge in and of itself.
Richard Arum is senior academic advisor of the Social Science Research Council's Education Research Program, current chair of the Sociology Department at NYU, and incoming dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Arum has led a range of projects related to K–12 and higher education, including the CLA Longitudinal Study, a comparative study of school discipline in nine countries, and a project that led to the creation of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Currently, he leads the SSRC's Measuring College Learning project, an initiative that engages faculty in consensus-driven discussions about field-specific learning outcomes and assessment in higher education.