Making sense of learning gain in higher education

C. Evans, C. Kandiko Howson, A. Forsythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
121 Downloads (Pure)


Internationally, the political appetite for educational measurement capable of capturing a metric of value for money and effectiveness has momentum. While most would agree with the need to assess costs relevant to quality to help support better governmental policy decisions about public spending, poorly understood measurement comes with unintended consequences. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the development of measures of learning gain in higher education, exploring political contexts, methodological challenges, and the multiple purposes and potential of learning gain metrics for quality assurance, accountability and enhancement, and most importantly, we argue, the enhancement of learning and teaching. Learning gain approaches should be integral to curriculum design and delivery and not extraneous to it. Enhancing shared understandings of concepts, measures, and instruments, transparency in reporting and investment in developing pedagogical research literacy, including effective use of data are essential in the pursuit of meaningful approaches to measuring learning gain within higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-45
Number of pages45
JournalHigher Education Pedagogies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • Learning gain
  • higher education
  • post-secondary
  • pedagogy
  • research methodology


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