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AAC&U Collaborates with Utah's Higher Ed Institutions on Civic Engagement and Student Success

The American Association of Colleges and Universities has embarked on a statewide project with the Utah System of Higher Education to evaluate student performance on civic outcomes. Supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, the initiative is a companion to the AAC&U's "Advancing Evidence on Civic and Community-Based Engagement in Higher Education," a nationwide project focused on ways to support civic skill-building for students.

All 16 public colleges and universities in Utah, comprising eight technical colleges and eight degree-granting institutions, will gather at least 100 student work products "either from direct engagement in civic or community-based experiences or from other high-impact practices designed to promote civic learning outcomes," according to a news announcement. That work will be submitted to AAC&U's Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) Scoring Collaborative for evaluation by certified faculty members and educators using a rubric approach. The resulting data will be disaggregated to "identify gaps in students' skill development," the announcement explained.

"Every part of American higher education has a role to play in preparing students to meet the challenges of tomorrow in service of their communities, families and country. Utah's public institutions are helping lead the way as we work to understand what students actually learn and experience in college that best prepares them for this future," said Terri Taylor, strategy director for innovation and discovery at Lumina Foundation, in a statement. "I hope that they will serve as inspirational models for states and colleges across the country."

"The Utah System of Higher Education and the presidents of the participating institutions have shown tremendous leadership and unity in forming this new initiative," commented AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. "At AAC&U, we have long believed in the power of state-level initiatives to create transformative change in higher education. Utah's effort is a bold statement on how state systems of higher education can help promote civic learning and student success in service to democracy."

 "Within the Utah System of Higher Education, we believe civic and community-based engagement is one of the key components to a high-quality education and can lead to increased student success," said Dave Woolstenhulme, the system's commissioner of higher education. "We value what civic and community-based engagement brings to the higher education experience for all Utah students."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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