Development Hub

Improving Learning Through Proficiency Initiatives


For over a decade, the AAC&U has worked on a range of projects focused on improving student learning and promoting students success – these projects come together under the umbrella term of Proficiency Initiatives. The Proficiency Initiatives are championed by AAC&U, Lumina Foundation, and faculty and staff from universities and colleges across the country and abroad, including many in Texas.

Developed through a decade and more of research into student learning and success conducted by AAC&U and other higher education organizations in partnership with institutions across the country and abroad, all of these projects are focused on helping all students, especially those who have been historically underserved by higher education, learn most effectively and demonstrate and apply their learning outside the classroom. These initiatives are grounded in the Essential Leaning Outcomes – those adaptive, cross-cutting, inquiry-based capacities necessary for economic and civic flourishing.

  • The Degree Qualifications Profile and Tuning – The Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) is a framework developed by Lumina Foundation, with the input of higher education leaders from around the country, focused on defining the high-quality learning that college degrees should signify at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Closely associated with the DQP is Tuning – a faculty-driven process related to the DQP that focuses on the major rather than the degree. Tuning identifies what a student should know and be able to do in a chosen discipline when a degree has been earned.
  • General Education Maps and Markers (GEMS) – AAC&U’s GEMS project represents a large-scale, systematic effort to develop a portable and proficiency-based framework for general education.
  • Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) AAC&U’s VALUE project  provides a set of faculty-developed assessment tools and rubrics keyed to higher-order learning skills and outcomes, and working to elevate student work as the most authentic measure of student learning. The Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment works across nine state systems and 69 campuses to evaluate and calibrate student work using the VALUE rubrics.
  • High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPS) AAC&U identify a range of these teaching and learning practices that have been widely tested and shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds. These practices take many different forms, depending on learner characteristics and on institutional priorities and contexts.
  • Signature assessments –  assignments, tasks, activities, projects or exams targeted at a specific learning outcomes or mix of outcomes.