Our Mission

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), established in 2008, is a research and resource-development organization dedicated to documenting, advocating, and facilitating the systematic use of learning outcomes assessment to improve student learning.

NILOA supports institutions in designing learning experiences and assessment approaches that strengthen the experience of diverse learners within a variety of institutional contexts. NILOA works in partnership with a broad range of organizations and provides technical assistance and research support to various projects focused on learning throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Our Vision

Our Vision is to broaden the dialogue and conversation on meaningful and sustainable assessment practices that address issues of design and implementation, and position institutions, organizations, and individuals to achieve their goals. NILOA is not national in name only. We strive to create and promote resources that allow all institutions to see themselves in our work regardless of their current stage in the assessment continuum.

We achieve our vision through the following principles. NILOA will:

  1. Offer guidance to institutions, organizations, and individuals as to how their assessment efforts can improve and be consequential through a variety of examples that meet people and institutions where they are to enact meaningful change. NILOA strongly believes that successful assessment must be attuned to the specific context in which it is occurring.
  2. Engage in and inform activities that benefit partners, institutions, organizations, individual assessment practitioners, and learners in ways that stress concepts of responsible assessment practice, fairness, and equity.
  3. Provide open access to timely content pertaining to the field of assessment through original research, resources, media, collaboration/partnership efforts, and more. As an organization that is not membership driven, we aim to work openly with those who are dedicated to moving the field of assessment forward, and making the fruit of those collaborations openly available to our audience whenever possible.

Our Work

NILOA conducts research to discover promising practices and trends in local and national assessment practices and serves learners, faculty, institutions, and organizations by providing a continuously updated, online, open access, go-to-resource repository for improving the quality of student learning. Our principal activities include:

  • Supporting and scaling faculty and staff engagement strategies around assignment design and curriculum mapping in the form of charrettes and toolkits, consultations, presentations, and NILOA Coaches.
  • Collaborating with partner organizations to support integration and scaling of efforts including working with employers, systems, national organizations, institutional collaboratives, regional accreditors, and communities of practice.
  • Promoting the use of assessment data to inform, strengthen, document, and validate student learning, and to communicate with policy makers, families, employers, students, and other stakeholders through evidence-based storytelling and a Transparency Framework built from institutional web scans.
  • Conducting regular, ongoing, actionable research on assessment of student learning including surveys, document analysis, case studies of institutions in various stages of engagement with assessment, focus groups, policy analysis, narrative analysis, environmental scans, and tracking and mapping Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP)/Tuning and related efforts.
  • Publishing a paper series of topics responsive to the changing needs of the field.
  • Discovering and sharing the many ways that institutions and those within undertake meaningful, sustainable assessment efforts that actively involve multiple stakeholders including students.
  • Recognizing institutional assessment efforts through the national Excellence in Assessment (EIA) designation in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) – a joint initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU).