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National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment

Occasional Paper 16 - The Lumina Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP): Implications for Assessment


DQP Cover

Ewell, P. (2013, January).The Lumina Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP): Implications for Assessment. (Occasional Paper No.16). Urbana, IL: University for Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.


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Peter Ewell, Vice President for the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, explains assessment and the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) with examples and possible implications for higher education. The paper includes a foreword by George Kuh and Stan Ikenberry and an afterword by Carol Geary Schneider. As two of the primary authors of the DQP, Drs. Ewell and Schneider provide in-depth explorations of assessment and the DQP, and offer guidance for stakeholders on how best to assess student learning in relation to the DQP.

Paper Abstract

In January 2011, the Lumina Foundation published its Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) to challenge faculty and academic leaders in the U.S. to think deeply and concretely about aligning expectations for student learning outcomes across higher education. I was privileged to be one of the four primary authors of the DQP, together with Cliff Adelman, Paul Gaston, and Carol Geary Schneider. Since then, the DQP has kindled extensive discussions about what the postsecondary degrees granted by American colleges and universities really mean with respect to what graduates know and can do. But the text of the DQP itself provides only limited guidance to stakeholders with respect to assessment.

In order to render the Profile's potential real, institutions and their faculties will need to develop consistent and systematic ways to gather evidence that the competencies that the DQP describes are actually being mastered at the levels claimed. I prepared this NILOA Occasional Paper to explore some of what needs to be done in this area and provide a few tools and techniques (some of which are already in widespread use) that may help us move forward. In offering them, I invite faculties at all our colleges and universities to carefully examine what the DQP asks us to do in designing more aligned and integrated approaches to teaching, learning, and determining student competence—as well as to actively experiment with these ideas and techniques with their colleagues.

Biographies of the Authors

Peter Ewell
Peter Ewell
, Senior Scholar for NILOA, is also Vice President of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). Ewell’s work focuses on assessing institutional and higher education system effectiveness and the outcomes of college, and involves both research and direct consulting with institutions and state systems on collecting and using assessment information in planning, evaluation, and budgeting. He has direct initiatives funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Institute for Education, the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education, the Pew Charitable Trusts. In addition, he has consulted with over 375 colleges and universities and twenty-four state systems of higher education on topics related to performance indicators and the assessment of student learning. Dr. Ewell has authored seven books and numerous articles on the topic of improving undergraduate instruction through the assessment of student outcomes. In addition, he has prepared commissioned papers for many agencies including the Education Commission of the States, the National Governors’ Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, and the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education. A graduate of Haverford College, he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University in 1976 and was on the faculty of the University of Chicago.

Carol Geary Schneider
Carol Geary Schneider
is president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Under her leadership, AAC&U launched Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP), a public advocacy and campus action initiative designed to engage students and the public with what really matters in a college education for the twenty-first century.

Dr. Schneider has published extensively and taught at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, Chicago State University and Boston University.





This NILOA work has been featured in:

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Put Student Work at the Center of Accountability Efforts, Authors Argue. January 17, 2013 issue.

Inside Higher Ed, New Paper Aims to Invigorate Promise of Degree Qualifications Profile. January 17, 2013 issue.

Academia Top Ten , US Paper Argues for Putting Student Work at Centre of Accountability Initiatives. January 22, 2013.

University of Illinois, College of Education News, New NILOA paper: Put student work at the center of accountability efforts, authors argue. January 24, 2013.


"At this point, we are just beginning to see how far the transformations in teaching, learning, and assessment implied by the DQP will go and how much of their potential can be realized. My purpose in this brief paper is to provide a few of their experiences as a 'tasting menu,' while encouraging all institutions to experiment and communicate. If we do this together, we can learn a great deal."

Peter Ewell

Peter T. Ewell
Vice President, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)
Senior Scholar, NILOA