The OECD initiative for an assessment of higher education learning outcomes

Diane Lalancette


At a time when innovation, knowledge and human capital are at the core of our economies and societies’ progress, higher education has a key role to play in preparing students to become effective workers and citizens. The OECD has a long standing interest in improving the quality of higher education to equip the next generation with the tools and opportunities for success. But we need to first overcome information gaps in the evidence base on learning. Therefore, the AHELO feasibility study is a groundbreaking attempt to assess whether it is possible to measure on an international scale what undergraduate students know and can do. To provide proof of concept, the AHELO feasibility study is exploring several areas from generic skills to discipline-specific competencies with economics and engineering being the focus at this stage. The aim is to develop different measures, ranging from cumulative performance to measures that capture the learning gain at an institution, as well as the contextual factors that influence learning outcomes. This paper provides an overview of the AHELO feasibility study, its goals, its approach and expected outcomes as well as the status of the project and its next phases.


higher education; learning outcomes; economics; engineering; generic skills; international; measures; assessment

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"Intellectual Economics" ISSN online 1822-8038 / ISSN print 1822-8011