A critical review of learning gains on its methods and approaches

Rogaten, Jekaterina and Rienties, Bart (2020). A critical review of learning gains on its methods and approaches. In: Hughes, Christina and Tight, Malcolm eds. International Perspectives on Higher Education Research. Emerald, (In Press).


In the last five years there is an increased interest across the globe and the UK in particular to define, conceptualise, and measure learning gains. The concept of learning gains, briefly summarised as the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education, has been hailed by some as an opportunity to measure “excellence” in teaching. This chapter will review some of the common definitions and the methods employed in research on learning gains. Secondly, we will provide a critical evaluation of the computational aspects of learning gains (e.g., raw gain, normalised gain). Finally, we will critically reflect upon the lessons learned and what is not yet known in terms of learning gains.

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