Preparing Future Faculty to Assess Student Learning
    September 29, 2017


    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg (202) 461.3888/


    New Council of Graduate Schools publication highlights effective strategies and best practices


    Washington, DC – The next generation of faculty will be better prepared to help their students learn, thanks to a new Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) report released today. Strategies to Prepare Future Faculty to Assess Student Learning is the product of a three-year project to identify models for infusing undergraduate learning assessment skills into existing Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Teagle Foundation, and in collaboration with seven funded institutions and 19 affiliates, the project involved nearly 1,300 graduate students and 200 faculty across the humanities, social sciences, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).


    Knowing how to assess whether students are learning – and what they’re learning – is key to advancing the quality of U.S. higher education. Yet learning assessment is typically a topic to which faculty have little or no exposure until they actually begin their faculty careers. By that time, they are busy trying to publish, obtain research funding, and keep up with their teaching responsibilities. Evaluation of student learning outcomes may take a backseat to these other important activities, unless faculty are already prepared and possess the skills to execute high-quality learning assessments.


    CGS President Suzanne Ortega commented that “Our long-term goal is to help universities fully integrate learning assessment skills into the majority of professional development programs for graduate students interested in faculty careers. Ultimately, we hope to build a cadre of new faculty who will become champions for undergraduate teaching and learning.”


    The report outlines a core set of assessment skills and competencies, and common tactics for integrating these skills into existing professional development programs. Innovative strategies such as “flipping” the classroom (having students watch lectures at home and participate in active learning discussions in class), using audience response systems (or “clickers”) to engage students, and conducting “teaching-as-research” projects are just a few examples of the practices in use at universities.


    CGS partnered with seven institutions: Cornell University; Harvard University; Indiana University; Michigan State University; North Carolina A&T State University; University of California, Merced; and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as 19 affiliate partners. The project built upon more than two decades of CGS partnerships for preparing future faculty.


    An Executive Summary is freely available for download. The full report can be purchased online.



    The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.