“Engaged learning” is a common term at the University of Michigan and a growing movement nationally. What does it mean? U-M’s working definition conceives of engaged learning as providing students with opportunities for practice in unscripted, authentic settings, where stakeholders (including the students themselves) are invested in the outcome. This pairs nicely with Grant Wiggins’s concept of “authentic assessment,” whereby students closely practice and demonstrate the type of work they will be doing after graduation: it is public, involves collaboration, and engages students in representative challenges of a field or subject, which are often ill-structured -- rather than having “right or wrong” answers. A more thorough exploration of engaged learning at Michigan can be found in a forthcoming series of Occasional Papers (more on these below). 

Here are a few of the many ways that students already experience engaged learning at U-M: Read more »


How do undergraduates experience the learning environment and broader campus climate at U-M? Of course, teachers regularly gather information about such questions from their direct interactions with students. The campus-wide UMAY survey offers a broader, systematic way of collecting and tracking student perceptions about their learning and their more general experience of U-M. In this post, guest blogger Karen Zaruba of the Office of Budget & Planning describes some of the rich findings generated by the survey and highlights reasons you might encourage your students to complete it.   

Have you heard about the University of Michigan Asks You (UMAY) survey? Just as important:  Have your students heard about it?

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the UMAY survey is the university’s annual effort to learn more about the undergraduate experience on our campus. Each spring, we invite all undergrads (regardless of class year) to respond.  We want to know how they are doing as students, and how we are doing as an institution. 

The survey questions cover a lot of ground: self-assessment of skills and growth since enrolling, perceptions of climate, use of time, academic engagement, and goals. Students report on their satisfaction with their experience in the classroom, academic department, and on campus overall, including their participation in research, study abroad, internships, service learning, and other high-impact learning activities. There are over 600 items in all (though no student has to answer all of them: some questions are randomly assigned). This broad range of items enables us to assess program effectiveness, benchmark with other universities, and gather unique insights about students' experiences.

To get a flavor of the kinds of things we can learn, here are some findings from the 2013 UMAY survey:

  • 86% of students report that faculty provide prompt and useful feedback on student work.
  • The majority of U-M students complete at least half of their assigned reading. However, there are differences by gender: 79% of female students do, while just 68% of male students report the same.
  • 43% of students said they chose their major in part because it provides international opportunities.
  • 65% of students agree that they have trouble remaining focused on academic work due to personal use of technology. However, those students who never bring a laptop or tablet to class do better: just 53% agree.
  • First-generation college students are more than twice as likely as others to report that family responsibilities are a frequent obstacle to their academic success.
  • By senior year, LSA student report their greatest gains in understanding a particular field of study, understanding international perspectives, and research skills. They report the lowest gains in quantitative skills, speaking skills, and fine arts appreciation.


The AACU rubric, listed first below, is a framework to think about the knowledge, skills and perceptions or attitudes that are changed through international experience.  The next four tools are survey instruments to measure specific knowledge, perceptions, and skills.  These latter vary in what they target, although all involve self-report.  The last link includes some survey tools but toolkits for members of groups to work together on identifying the differences among them. Read more »


"For assessment to be successful, it is necessary to put aside the question, 'What’s the best possible knowledge?' and instead to ask, 'Do we have good enough knowledge to try something different that might benefit our students?'"

-Blaich, C. F., & Wise, K. S. (2011). From gathering to using assessment results: Lessons from the Wabash National Study (NILOA Occasional Paper No.8). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Key Definitions & Frameworks

Data sources that are useful to consider in assessing student learning are:

  1. Evidence of learning outcomes

    Direct measures of learning


The links in this section provide guidance for faculty who are undertaking curriculum design or revision.

Key Definitions & Frameworks

Click on the terms below to read more. Read more »