Chapter 8: Assessing for Meaning Outside the Classroom
From the Book: The Refractive Thinker®: Vol. VI: Post-Secondary Education


Exploring what students learn in college has sparked a revolution in practice within post-secondary education and research that has been fueled by both demands for external accountability and the internal desire to improve the student experience. However, even after several decades of intense scrutiny, clearly discerning the student learning experience remains an enigma for both scholars and practitioners. The elusiveness encompassing student learning in post-secondary environments is partially due to the vast number of variables and combinations of variables that influence student learning, both in aggregate, and at the individual student level. Colleges and universities have engaged in both assessment and research exploring what students are learning. Despite decades of attention from Astin, Kuh and Associates, Pascarella and Terenzini, little scholarly attention has been paid to what students are learning outside of the classroom in programs, events, and experiences intentionally designed to elicit a learning response from students (ACPA & NASPA, 2004). This chapter will explore how students make meaning of their intentional out-of-class learning experiences by briefly reviewing prominent literature related to the topic, overview a recent study by Levett (2011), and concluding with suggestions for practitioners in post-secondary educational environments.
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