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Assessing Learning in Learning Communities

It is critical to define and distinguish integration and interdisciplinary in order to achieve clarity and substance for a learning community program.
– from the University of Kansas team's final report

One of the least-researched dimensions is how best to assess students' learning in learning communities. To address this need we initiated a two-year national research project in 2006. The Washington Center, along with twenty-two campus teams from across the country, reached fresh understandings about the central importance of intentionally designing integrative learning.

This participatory research project aimed to strengthen the national learning community movement by developing collaborative assessment practices that focus on the quality of student learning made possible by learning communities.

Participating campus teams agreed to examine student work using a collaborative assessment protocol developed by Veronica Boix-Mansilla. This protocol integrates Boix-Mansilla and Howard Gardner's empirical research on interdisciplinarity into a collaborative protocol used by teachers in The Evidence Project, organized by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

As the national project evolved, faculty designed assignments using Washington Center's integrative design heuristic.

Among the products from this research project are a series of integrative assignments, developed and used by learning community faculty. Campus teams used the collaborative assessment protocol and integrative design heuristic to evaluate and refine these and other assignments.

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