Building a Foundation for Qualitative Assessment


Over the past decade, the Bonner Foundation has also worked to align its program outcomes with institutional learning outcomes, such as those often associated with liberal education. Foundation staff have participated in the development of key rubrics for assessing civic outcomes in particular, such as the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics for Civic Engagement and Integrative Learning and the rubrics for Civic Knowledge and Civic Values developed for statewide application in Massachusetts. Additionally, the Foundation has developed strategies for programs and centers to articulate student learning outcomes and use outcome-based planning for initiatives. We have engaged key leaders (such as Caryn Musil of AAC&U and CLDE, John Saltmarsh of the Carnegie Classification, and Ashley Finley of Bringing Theory to Practice) to provide technical assistance to campuses.

Bonner Learning Outcomes Rubric

At this time, the Foundation has begun work on a suggested set of learning outcomes and a rubric tied to the Bonner Program. The learning outcomes tie to the four-year developmental model and Common Commitments. They are drawn from and adapted from the Civic Engagement, Civic Knowledge, Civic Values, Integrative Learning, and Global Learning rubrics. These outcomes also map onto outcomes that are commonly found in institutional learning outcomes tied to civic and community engagement.

Currently, ten outcomes include:

  • Civic Agency: Ability to take action to address an issue or promote the public good
  • Civic Identity: Sense of commitment and responsibility as a member of a community and society 
  • Critical Thinking and Perspective Taking: Ability to analyze and synthesize diverse perspectives
  • Communication Skills: Ability to effectively communicate in diverse formats and forums
  • Diversity and Intercultural Competence: Understanding and capacity to learn from and with diverse others
  • Empathy: Ability to relate to and share feelings of diverse others  
  • Integrative Learning: Connects relevant experience and academic knowledge  
  • Leadership: Capacity to collaborate with and lead others to achieve a goal or common purpose
  • Place- and Issue-Based Knowledge: Understanding of facets of a specific community or issue
  • Social Justice: Ability to examine and act to promote fairness and equity

In 2017-2018, the Foundation will pilot using the rubric to assess the integrative experiences of Bonner seniors across a number of campuses. Through a process involving staff and faculty (as well as some input from students and partners), student work including senior presentations, capstones projects, and written and oral reflections will be reviewed, using this inquiry-based process to inform program design. Through this, the Foundation will begin to lay the groundwork for an e-portfolio dimension of the Bonner web-based reporting system used across all campuses.