Research-Informed Design

From the beginning, SAIL was designed as a research-informed process that fosters scholarly teaching, and is aligned with the university’s six principles for learning outcomes and assessment (Thompson Rivers University, 2022):

  1. Growth and learning-oriented
  2. Equitable and learner-centred
  3. Faculty-driven
  4. Ongoing cyclical improvement
  5. Purposeful and holistic design
  6. Reflexive approach to learning

To address the research questions about the efficacy and utility of shared ILO rubrics and assessment results, we chose to apply an action research design because action research engages faculty in systematic, reflexive enquiry into practice about student learning.

Action research cycles are focused on generating solutions to practical problems and the subsequent development of activities to improve outcomes across multiple cycles (Koshy et al., 2010): the findings of which can contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning.

As part of the action research, we prioritized the use of qualitative methods. In particular, we applied focus group techniques, rubric-based descriptive assessments, and community consultations that included a mixed-methods survey and presentations to elicit feedback. Finally, we included some initial quantitative descriptive analysis of consent rates.

Note: We originally intended to include a quantitative analysis of rubric-based assessor ratings to produce aggregate reports of student achievement of an ILO. However, qualitative data from Pilots #1 and #2 suggested limitations for interpreting the quantitative results. More attention to reliability training is needed for aggregation. See further explanation under “Cautionary Considerations for producing Aggregate Reports“.

The SAIL research design fits within a subcategory of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) called the Scholarship of Curriculum Practice (SoCP), which “uses an inquiry-based approach to gather data to better understand the curriculum, form the basis of evidence-informed discussions, and potentially lead to curriculum renewal.” (Huball & Gold, 2007).

SAIL was launched in Fall 2020 and the pilots continue under the guidance of the Assurance of Learning Subcommittee until all avenues of learning outcomes and assessment have been investigated that respect the comprehensive programming and disciplinary diversity that epitomizes Thompson Rivers University.

SAIL continues to be an iterative faculty-led process, collaboratively coordinated by the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and Office of Quality Assurance in partnership with faculty members from across the university.


Hubball, H. & Gold, N. (2007). The scholarship of curriculum practice and undergraduate program reform: Integrating theory into practice. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2007(1), 41-57.

Koshy, E., Koshy, V., & Waterman, H. (2010). Action research in healthcare. SAGE.

Thompson Rivers University. (2022). Learning outcomes and assessment principles and procedures. Learning Outcomes and Assessment Principles and Procedures (PDF)


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Strategic Assessment of Institutional Learning Copyright © by Carolyn Hoessler and Alana Hoare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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