Alverno College, WI Ability-Based Curriculum

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Alverno College, WI, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Ongoing

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Ability-Based Curriculum
Alverno College's unique emphasis on learning the abilities needed to put knowledge to use - commonly called "ability-based education" - has gained national praise.

Alverno doesn't use standardized tests and traditional exams. Each student is unique, each learns in unique ways. But life is competitive, and so are we. Rather than measure performance as a snapshot in time, against a curve that strips away individual achievement, we focus on measurement that's about you, and only you. The lessons you learn are applicable in real life, they become part of who you are. Alverno students learn more in class and retain the lessons longer. Our eight cornerstone concepts represent the very building blocks needed to create an effective and relevant learning experience.

Since the early 1970s, the Alverno College faculty have been developing and implementing ability-based undergraduate education, redefining education in terms of abilities needed for effectiveness in the worlds of work, family, and civic community. The distinctive feature of an ability-based approach is that we make explicit the expectation that students should be able to do something with what they know.

The specific abilities identified by our faculty as central to our approach to liberal arts and professional education are:

  • Communication
  • Analysis
  • Problem Solving
  • Valuing in Decision-Making
  • Social Interaction
  • Developing a Global Perspective
  • Effective Citizenship
  • Aesthetic Engagement

Student Assessment-As-Learning
In order to evaluate student demonstration of the abilities, Alverno faculty developed the concept of assessment as a multidimensional process of judging the individual in action. In both course-based assessments and integrative assessments which focus student learning from several courses, we elicit samples of performance representing the expected learning outcomes from a course or program.

Faculty and other trained assessors observe and judge a student's performance based on explicit criteria. Their feedback, as well as the reflective practice of self assessment by each student, helps to create a continuous process that improves learning and integrates it with assessment. We call this process student assessment-as-learning.

For more information on student assessment and ability-based education at Alverno, look at the Alverno College Institute for Educational Outreach Web pages, call 414-382-6087, toll free at 1-800-933-3401 or e-mail [email protected].