Guidelines for Learning Outcomes for Therapeutic Recreation

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In 2008, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC & U) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA - the organization that accredits accrediting bodies), issued a jointly developed document entitled “New Leadership for Student Learning and Accountability: A Statement of Principles and Commitments to Action.” After dialogue with many colleagues, including leaders in the nation’s major higher education and accreditation associations, principles developed by these two organizations in accreditation and higher education sum up best practices in accreditation. Key among these principles for accreditation follow:

• The primary responsibility for achieving excellence falls on colleges and universities themselves. Accrediting organizations have played a significant role in advancing the assessment of learning outcomes and must continue to do so while encouraging institutions to set the highest possible standards.

• Each college and university (and major divisions, schools, and programs within them) should develop ambitious, specific, and clearly stated goals for student learning appropriate to its mission, resources, tradition, student body, and community setting.

• Each college and university should gather evidence about how well students in various programs are achieving learning outcomes across the curriculum and about the ability of its graduates to succeed in a challenging and rapidly changing world. The evidence gathered through this process should be used by each institution and its faculty to develop coherent, effective strategies for educational improvement (AAC&U & CHEA, 2008).