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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes: Challenges and Lessons Learned From the Feasibility Study

Thu, April 16, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sheraton, Floor: Fourth Level, Chicago VI&VII


The OECD recently completed a feasibility study entitled the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) involving 17 countries and 248 higher education institutions. Drawing on a policy sociology framework, this paper focuses on and traces the tensions and contradictions inherent in the construction of an international assessment tool in the context of higher education. This paper draws upon publicly available and relevant AHELO texts, interviews with key informants, and observations of AHELO meetings. It shares three themes that emerged from the analysis, 1) the fragility of purpose, 2) working across variable contexts, and 3) structural challenges. This paper argues that AHELO’s production process may in fact jeopardize the OECD’s image as an “authoritative” resource of comparative educational data.