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Moving to a Learning Systems Paradigm 

Picture of Jennifer HarrisonPresenter:

Natasha Jankowski Ph.D.: Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA)

Dr. Natasha Jankowski is Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment and Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences and institutional events, and written various reports and papers for NILOA. She is co-author with her NILOA colleagues of the 2015 book, Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education,‚Äčand co-author of the forthcoming book Degrees that Matter. Her main research interests include assessment and evaluation, organizational evidence use, organizational digital narratives, and evidence-based storytelling. She holds a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Illinois, an MA in Higher Education Administration from Kent State University and a BA in philosophy from Illinois State University. 


Participants in this workshop will explore as a collaborative the Learning Systems paradigm, derived from research with over 800 institutions working on large-scale institution-wide change initiatives. Those that moved forward successfully with sustainable change efforts went through a paradigm shift, more extensive than Barr and Tagg's shift from an instructional paradigm to a learning paradigm. It involved developing a collective understanding and paradigm shift with constituents throughout an institution. The four elements of the paradigm include:  consensus-based, aligned, learner-centered, and communicated. 

We will discuss the paradigm elements, including examples of them in action and means to begin the conversation through curriculum mapping approaches, assignment design efforts, and spaces for collaborative dialogue. The impacts from the learning system paradigm will be presented and participants will learn about various resources available to assist in the effort. Finally, participants will apply their learning to develop plans to implement steps to move towards a learning systems approach within their institution or program. 

Learning Outcomes: 

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to...

  1. Participants will be made aware of and learn how to access various resources that support the development of a learning system. 
  2. Participants will explore the four elements of the learning system paradigm and unpack how it differs from existing approaches to teaching and learning.
  3. Participants will develop a plan to implement a learning systems approach within their institution or program.