[T]he long-used proxies for quality in higher education—seat time, faculty profile, institutional reputation, tradition, even endowment size ― all of these indicators are insufficient, even invalid. What really matters—fundamentally, the only measure of educational quality that matters ― is learning; that is, what students know, and what they can do with what they know.
Of course, as assessment experts, you made this connection long ago. You know better than anyone that any viable definition of quality must be firmly rooted in results, in specific learning outcomes.
The Lumina Foundation is actively working toward building new ways to measure quality in higher education, and thank goodness for that. I agree: the use of seat time is not a strong indicator of rigor, success, or even of learning. The industry is moving more and more to demonstrative means of learning – see competency-based education models, for example. More emphasis will focus on how are your students proving they have gained the learning outcomes. My favorite example is that from psychometric expert Thomas Zane: don’t ask students to explain how to change a tire, ask them to change it.
So, if your school doesn’t have strong, measurable learning outcomes, now might be a good time for program revision.