LEAP Campus Toolkit

Resources and Models for Innovation

Quality Collaboratives Overview

Quality Collaboratives: Assessing and Reporting Degree Qualifications Profile Competencies in the Context of Transfer is a three-year project that works with nine state systems to clarify, map, assess, and improve the achievement of learning outcomes across two- and four-year institutions. The project uses the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) to explore how the intended learning can be achieved and assessed through educational programs, both to demonstrate the attainment of competency across the DQP areas of learning, and to facilitate the transition of students from one educational level to the next. The Quality Collaboratives project is funded by Lumina Foundation for Education.

To learn more about this project, please visit AAC&U’s Quality Collaboratives project website, or download the project’s three-year update summary here.

Visit the Resources for Participants for work plans, templates, presentations, and other materials.

Project Plans
Each state in the Quality Collaboratives is working to clarify, map, assess, and improve the achievement of learning outcomes across two- and four-year institutions. The Quality Collaboratives' project plans are posted below.
California State University, Northridge and Pierce College are enlivening the general education curriculum at both institutions by offering transferable, lower division courses threaded within the themes of Social Justice, the Global Village, and Sustainability. These courses will satisfy the broad general education areas required for transfer, allowing students to move through their requirements with the benefit of contextualized learning. Students will also have the option of declaring a minor based on these themes. The thematic pathways will draw on professional development and student events that bring faculty and students together from both campuses. Using the DQP, the Northridge and Pierce collaborative will align student learning goals across each of these pathways, thus ensuring that all students, whether "native" or transfer, fulfill the same general education expectations.

Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

The Indiana Quality Collaborative project plan is not publicly available.


Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and University of Louisville

Kentucky’s General Education Transfer Policy was revised in 2011 and implemented in the fall of 2012. The policy departs from the typical course-to-course comparisons as a basis for transfer. Instead, the transfer of general education credits is predicated on the acquisition of competencies in broad academic areas. Rather than focusing on how particular courses from sending institutions correspond to general education courses at receiving institutions, Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions focus on the similarities among general education programs and their competencies and student learning outcomes (SLOs).

Kentucky’s Quality Collaboratives project builds on the work of the Tuning project and on the recent revisions to the statewide transfer policy. ECTC, UofL, and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) developed guiding questions for the Quality Collaboratives project. These questions focus on the implementation of the statewide transfer policy and its connections to LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) and the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP).

• How do biology students transferring from a Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) campus to UofL compare to UofL’s native students in respect to: persistence, performance in upper-level biology courses, and attainment of specific biology SLOs (associated with program requirements, transfer requirements, and the DQP)?

• How successfully are students acquiring the SLOs of Kentucky’s General Education Transfer Policy (mapped to the LEAP ELOs and the DQP)?

• What mechanisms are needed in order to assure that students are transferring with the competencies needed to successfully complete a four-year degree?

Proposed activities will be guided by the questions, issues, and concerns associated with the three strands of work proposed by AAC&U: assessment of student learning, faculty development and leadership, and policy recommendations.


Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State will build on the work of the Central Massachusetts Partnership to Assess Written Communication. Each institution will assemble teams of faculty leaders in Communication Literacy and the three other areas: Quantitative Literacy, Applied Learning, and Civic Engagement. These faculty members will meet to analyze and align the different rubrics used by each institution with LEAP and DQP learning outcomes. In addition to monthly meetings of these DQP area working groups, under the supervision of the campus faculty leaders, all 24 (12 from each institution) faculty members involved in the project will meet at the beginning and end of each semester with the campus leadership teams to report out to the group as a whole.

Over the 2 years of the grant, faculty, with the support of the campus assessment leaders at each institution, will collect 20-30 student artifacts each semester for each DQP area. Student work will be loaded into the Tk20 assessment system at Fitchburg State, and two faculty members from each institution will independently assess each piece of student work. Assessment data will be analyzed for inter-rater reliability and consistency in ratings across the sets of institutional rubrics. Finally, a regression analysis of student communication fluency, quantitative fluency, applied learning, and civic engagement ratings will be conducted to explore the relative contribution of enrollment in 2 year or 4-year institution, prior academic preparation, and demographic variables in determining student success.

Based on the findings, individual working groups will make recommendations about refining the assessment process including the rubrics and selection of courses. Additionally, the group as a whole will make recommendations to the leadership teams about developing a model policy for incorporating assessment processes and data into curriculum development and transfer policies. New faculty will be recruited through workshops or presentations on faculty development days and trained as part of a summer institute using a train-the-trainers model. The final products, developed under the supervision of the campus team and policy leaders, will be a common, web-based framework for reporting the assessment data; online resources and requirements for General Education course development and approval with a focus on DQP learning outcomes; and ongoing workshops and seminars to support faculty and staff in fostering and assessing these learning outcomes.

Middlesex Community College (MCC) and University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) faculty have a history of collaborative vertical curriculum alignment work, and like their colleagues at other two and four year institutions, have grappled with questions related to students’ cumulative development and achievement of articulated learning outcomes. Articulation agreements between these institutions are based upon students’ successful completion of an agreed‐upon set of required courses accompanied by a minimum GPA. There is universal agreement that student achievement of a set of common learning outcomes looks different at the Associate’s degree level than it does at the Bachelor’s degree level. But what is that difference? How do students’ junior and senior years of college extend their achievement of agreed‐upon learning outcomes? The DQP provides two and four year institutions, as well as graduate programs, the opportunity to pilot the application of a scaffolded set of expectations for student achievement of these learning outcomes. UML and MCC welcome the opportunity to pilot and offer feedback to the DQP’s differentiated levels of achievement as they relate to levels of learning articulated in the VALUE rubrics and their application to student work in programs with high‐transfer rates between the two institutions.

These two campuses have already collaborated to develop a pilot model for assessing students’ development as writers from their freshman through their senior year. They will build upon and extend this model to assess student development of Quantitative Fluency (QF) over time and across the curriculum, bringing together eighteen faculty from both institutions. These faculty, from Biology, Business, Criminal Justice and Psychology programs, representing four of the many disciplines and programs in which QF is recognized as essential to student success, will collaboratively develop discipline-based assessments of contextually relevant QF skills and then evaluate student development of those skills. Assessments and findings will be shared with colleagues within these and other programs at both institutions for project scale up.

A subset of project faculty and planners will map the DQP benchmarks for QF to AAC&U’s Quantitative Literacy (QL) VALUE rubric, and then use that rubric to both develop QF-integrated curriculum and assess students’ QF competency. The use of both tools will provide UML and MCC faculty with the ability to provide evidence‐based feedback to the relationship between these tools. The dyad team’s membership in the Quality Collaboratives project will provide the team with the opportunity to share experiences with other dyads doing similar work across the country.

North Dakota
In March 1994, the State Board of Higher Education adopted the "General Education Requirement Transfer Agreement" (GERTA). This agreement was created to create a “seamless transfer” for students transferring among the eleven institutions comprising the North Dakota University System. By knowing what general education classes and credits will transfer prior to actually transferring, students can better plan and make use of their time and money. North Dakota’s Quality Collaboratives project is a deliberative, consultative effort to design and implement “GERTA II,” a new standard that focuses on competency, on direct evidence of what students have learned or can do (not just “seat time”), based on AAC&U’s LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes and the benchmarks in the DQP. Under the new agreement, the quality of student learning would be checked and assured, transferring would be rooted in faculty-certified evidence of actual student performance. It would provide greater campus flexibility and autonomy, and it would be better suited to increasingly transient, “swirling” students who are bringing in courses from all over.

The QC project in North Dakota brings faculty together from public, tribal, and private institutions in a number of venues to develop the common vocabulary necessary to establishing GERTA II and to build consensus around learning outcomes through broad faculty scoring sessions and substantive summits to develop rubrics based on AAC&U’s VALUE Rubrics and to customize DQP outcomes to local context. The development of GERTA II is currently in a deliberative, consultative process.

The Oregon Quality Collaborative project plan is not publicly available.

The Utah Quality Collaborative project plan is not publicly available.


Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University

On a macro level JMU and Blue Ridge are interested in increasing the number and exploring more fully the success of BRCC students who transfer into two educational areas of need at JMU: teacher education/Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies (IDLS) and selected STEM majors. An important detail to this end is exploring how compatible the BRCC’s transfer students’ skills and knowledge are to their non-transfer JMU counterparts. The idea is that we (JMU and BRCC) want all students in these tracks to have the requisite knowledge and skills to be successful professionals in these fields. Given that both institutions use the same assessment instruments for assessing Quantitative (QR) and Scientific Reasoning (SR), we are in a unique position to explore this transfer of education from one institution to another.

Click here to read more about the BRCC - JMU Quality Collaborative.

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and Virginia Commonwealth University

Project summary to be posted soon.


University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and University of Wisconsin Fox Valley

UW-Fox Valley and UW-Oshkosh are identifying, mapping, and creating civic engagement courses and experiences that will both align and transfer, using the DQP as a set of reference points and developing appropriate assessments. They have a time line for activities for the next two years and have built in faculty leadership development as part of the program. They are also examining transfer policies between the institutions in light of the new University Studies Program.

University of Wisconsin Parkside and University of Wisconsin Waukesha

UW-Waukesha and UW-Parkside will be applying the Lumina Foundation for Education Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) to the newly developed and soon to be implemented University of Wisconsin Colleges Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree-completion program, to be jointly awarded by UW Colleges in collaboration with regional UW comprehensive universities. This applied baccalaureate degree emphasizes the application of the liberal arts, which includes global learning, cognitive skills, and professional experience. The project will use the DQP as a set of reference points and principles for assessing student learning within the new degree completion program. The model is intended to be presented to the entire University of Wisconsin System.

Leave a Reply