CHEA logo
  2016 chea award

Deadline for Applications: October 14, 2015

Award Information

Evidence of student achievement, student learning outcomes, plays an important role in discussions of higher education accountability, quality and effectiveness. At the same time, developing and using capacity to address student learning outcomes is a complex and significant challenge for colleges and universities, whether pursued at the level of an institution, a program or a major. This award acknowledges outstanding practices in developing and applying evidence of student learning outcomes as part of the ongoing accountability, evaluation and improvement of college and university programs of study. Up to four awards will bemade each year. Awards are presented at the CHEA Annual Conference.

Initiated in 2005 by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the CHEA Award was created to encourage and enhance attention to student learning outcomes within and among institutions, programs and majors. The four award criteria are intended to provide a framework within which higher education may address what students learn and can do, providing students, the public and the academic community with reliable evidence of student achievement. The award seeks not only to acknowledge the work of colleges and universities, but also to encourage future attention to student learning and to share effective practices in student learning within the academic community.


Applications will be accepted only from current CHEA institutional members. For members who are prior award winners and wish to submit a proposal for another award, the second proposal will be considered only if it is for a different program or major from the initial award or, if an initial institutional award, is a proposal for a program or major.

Categories of Award

The application may be institution-wide, focused on a specific program or focused on a major. Each application should contain a designation of the category for which it has been prepared: institution, program or major. Applications will be judged within the specific award category designated.

Award Selection and Criteria

Applications will be reviewed by an Award Committee of individuals from higher education institutions, higher education associations, accrediting organizations and the public. Applications will be judged on the extent to which four award criteria have been met:

  • Articulating expected outcomes for an institution, program or major
  • Providing evidence of success with regard to outcomes; direct evidence is preferred
  • Informing the public (constituents external to an institution, e.g. prospective students, families, government) about expectations and success with regard to outcomes
  • Using outcomes for institutional improvement: evidence that attention to outcomes has benefited the institution, program or major

In addition to the four criteria, the committee looks for evidence that outstanding practice related to outcomes (1) is embedded in an institutional culture, (2) makes good use of current technology in the methods and tools to track outcomes, (3) includes extensive use of faculty and strong faculty support, (4) is supported by institutional leadership that is dedicated to the importance of outcomes and (5) involves approaches to outcomes that can be replicated at other institutions.

Application Format

To be considered for an award, an applicant on behalf of an institution, program or major should complete the four sections of this application.

Section 1: Contact information for individual submitting the application
Section 2: Institutional endorsement by the chief executive officer or chief academic officer
Section 3: Application summary (100 words or less)
Section 4: Award criteria (response to each criterion not to exceed one-to-two pages

Applications that do not conform to format and length will not be considered by the award committee. Applications should provide full information in response to each award criterion. A complete response to each criterion is to be included in the text. Please do not rely on a review of links by the committee.

Examples of Evidence for Award Criteria

Evidence can be the result of quantitative and qualitative approaches to gathering information. It should be relevant to what is being claimed, potentially verifiable through replication or third-party inspection and representative or typical of major, program or institutional performance. Evidence must involve examination of student levels of attainment (individual students or representative samples) and may include:

  • Faculty-designed comprehensive or capstone examinations and assignments
  • Performance on external or licensure examinations
  • Authentic performances or demonstrations
  • Portfolios of student work over time
  • Samples of representative student work

Self-study reports and student satisfaction surveys do not constitute direct evidence of student learning outcomes.

CHEA Award: Successful Proposals to Date

A description of proposals of prior CHEA Award recipients may be found at: past CHEA Award winners.

Definitions of Key Terms

For the purposes of the CHEA Award:

  • Student learning outcomes is defined as "the knowledge, skills and abilities that a student has attained at the end (or as a result) of his or her engagement in a particular set of higher education experiences."
  • Informing the public is defined as "providing readily available and easily understood data or analysis that informs students and others about the success of a major, program or institution."
  • Public is defined as "constituents external to an institution."
  • Major is defined as "an institution-designated concentration that culminates in a degree" (e.g., history, philosophy, mathematics).
  • Program is defined as "a course of study in a career or professional area that culminates in a degree" (e.g., nursing, journalism, occupational therapy).

Award Timeline

August 10, 2015 Application released to institutions
October 14, 2015 Due date for application submission
December 18, 2015 Application review completed
January 8, 2016 Award recipients notified
January 12, 2016 2015 Awards announced
January 26, 2015 Awards presented at CHEA Annual Conference

Suggested Reference Materials

Council for Higher Education Accreditation (2010). Effective Practices: The Role of Accreditation in Student Achievement. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Council for Higher Education Accreditation (2003). Statement of Mutual Responsibilities for Student Learning Outcomes: Accreditation, Institutions and Programs. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Effective Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes: CHEA Award Recipients for summaries of award-winning institutions and programs.

Ewell, Peter T. (2001). Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes: A Proposed Point of Departure. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability (2012). Assuring Quality: An Institutional Self-Assessment Tool for Excellent Practice in Student Learning Outcomes Assessment.

New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability (2012). Committing to Quality: Guidelines for Assessment and Accountability in Higher Education.

Submission Methods

Applications may be submitted as email attachments in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat format and sent to Applications may be also submitted via U.S. mail or other delivery service to the following address:

Joél Espinoza
Special Assistant to the President
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20036-1135

Due Date

Applications must be received by Wednesday, October 14, 2015. Acknowledgment of receipt of application will be sent to the applicant via email.

Additional Information

For information about CHEA, please visit For questions about the CHEA Award, contact Joél Espinoza at 202-955-6126 (

Last Modified: Aug 17, 2016

Facebook   Twitter   LinkedIn

Powered by MemberMax