Measuring Outcomes of College: Fifty Years of Findings and Recommendations for the Future

Robert C. Pace


Justification for a college education is presented in this study by measuring the outcome of college experience. Evidence includes nearly five decades of research on students' achievement both during and after college, and on the educational influence of colleges themselves, to show how college graduates benefit from their exposure to higher education. In addition, landmark studies are surveyed to identify the connections among institutional goals, organizational structure, educational environment, and student achievement. Part I (Achievement During College: Undergraduates) examines student achievement by examining the Pennsylvania study by Learned and Wood (1938); tests of general education; Graduate Record Examinations' area tests and advanced tests; the College Board's College-Level Examination Program (CLEP); and the Undergraduate Assessment Program. Part II (Achievement After College: Alumni) uses various studies--such as the U.S. Office of Education National Survey of College Graduates, the National Opinion Research Center Alumni Survey, the Higher Education Research Institute national study of college graduates and employment, a 1976 Associated Colleges of the Midwest survey of liberal arts graduates, a UCLA survey, and a Time Magazine survey--to examine life after college. Part III (Achievement by Colleges: Studies of Institutions) uses self-studies and institutional research to measure the growth of the college. The epilogue makes suggestions for updated questionnaires to graduates, improved achievement tests, and a renewed attempt to change popular opinion that questions the worth of the college degree. A bibliography and an index are provided.



This reader outlines a number of higher education studies, surveys, and findings from the early and mid-1900s. Organized in three sections, the first part looks at achievements during college (focusing on undergraduates) with the second part giving a review of alumni achievements. The former includes findings from state-wide (The Pennsylvania Study) and national surveys (GRE results, general education, CLEP). Alumni surveys include institutional, state, and national findings. Further, survey results from liberal arts colleges are utilized. The section ends by comparing all studies noted as well as alumni surveys on their future. The last section gives a brief overview of institutions, with one chapter focused on self-studies and another chapter on comparing cross-institutional and inter- institutional studies.

APA Citation

Pace, C. R. (1979). Measuring Outcomes of College: Fifty Years of Findings and Recommendations for the Future. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

About the Study

Links to Article
Publication Type Book Chapter
In Publication Measuring Outcomes of College: Fifty Years of Findings and Recommendations for the Future
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study
Level of Analysis
Specific Populations Examined Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed No
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest
Student Sample Size 500 +
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