Higher Learning Research Communications

Digital Object Identifier



John Reiff, http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6637-4625


his article tells the story of the first state in the U.S. to set the expectation that every undergraduate in public higher education would be involved in civic learning. In 2012, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education made “Preparing Citizens” one of seven key outcomes of its Vision Project for public higher education. In 2014, the Board passed a Policy on Civic Learning defining civic learning as “acquisition of the knowledge, the intellectual skills and the applied competencies that citizens need for informed and effective participation in civic and democratic life; it also means acquiring an understanding of the social values that underlie democratic structures and practices” (http://www.mass.edu/bhe/lib/documents/AAC14-48CivicLearningwithPolicy-RevisedFinalforBHE.pdf). First steps toward achieving this goal includedesigning a process to identify and designate on every campus under the Board’s oversight those courses with a substantial focus on civic learning—either with or without civic engagement built into them—anddeveloping a set of rubrics that can be used to assess student learning outcomes in these courses. The article presents the complex issues emerging through the first year’s work on these two steps, and sketches action steps to follow.