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About the Project

21st Century Learning Outcomes Project

During the 1990s, a number of progressive community colleges embraced the concept of learning-centered education, focusing all their policies, practices, and programs on the core mission of education—learning. As part of this effort, many of these colleges are upgrading their traditional general education core to include the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for 21st Century student success. With funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the League has developed a network of 16 highly committed community and technical colleges that are designing and testing innovative outcomes-based methods for defining, delivering, and assessing student learning and for documenting student learning in ways other than grades and course credit.


This three-year project is Stage Two (Implementation and Advocacy) of a large-scale effort to bring new outcomes-based standards for student learning to the community college field. In Stage One (Planning and Research) of the initiative, the League, supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, held focus groups and conducted an international survey to determine the extent of U.S. and Canadian community college efforts to define, assess, and document student achievement of 21st Century Learning Outcomes. The results of the study are available in the League publication, Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century: Report of a Community College Study.


The goal of the 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project is to increase the capacity of community colleges to define and document student achievement of learning outcomes necessary for success in the workplace, in transfer education, and in today’s society.


Define. Each of the 16 project colleges will define a set of 21st Century Learning Outcomes and will assess the status of development and use of these outcomes to assess learning in their institutions.

Develop. Each of the 16 project colleges will develop a set of 21st Century Learning Outcomes with (a) specific statements of learning outcomes, (b) identified levels of achievement of learning outcomes, (c) concrete indices of student work to demonstrate each level, and (d) assessment strategies for determining student achievement at each level.

Deliver. Each of the 16 project colleges will identify and implement best practices and multiple models for delivery and support of 21st Century Learning Outcomes.

Document. The 16 project colleges will develop nontraditional methods for documenting student achievement of 21st Century Learning Outcomes beyond traditional grades, credits, and degrees.

Disseminate. Each of the 16 project colleges will (a) share their model programs, practices, and steps toward development with other institutions seeking ways to better define and document student learning; (b) collaborate to produce a comprehensive template "Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century," with models of innovative teaching, assessment, and documentation strategies for community colleges; and (c) develop an advocacy plan for influencing their local and state educators and policymakers to support a national movement toward outcomes-based practices for higher education.


League Staff

Cynthia Wilson, Vice President, Publications and Research, Editor in Chief
Wendy Neil, Grant and Program Specialist
Mary Prentice, Research Assistant

Terry O’Banion, President Emeritus and Senior League Fellow


Project Facilitators

Ron Baker
Mary Hjelm
Noreen Thomas
Joan Warren


Project Evaluator
Kay McClenney

Project Colleges 

Butler County Community College (KS)     

Central Piedmont Community College (NC)  

Cuyahoga Community College (OH)     

Foothill College (CA)                                 

Hocking College (OH)
Inver Hills Community College (MN)

Johnson County Community College (KS)

Kingsborough Community College (NY)

Mesa Community College (AZ)

Midlands Technical College (SC)

Montgomery College (TX)

San Diego Miramar College (CA)

Santa Fe Community College (FL)

Schoolcraft College (MI)
Skagit Valley College (WA)

Waukesha County Technical College (WI)