A Critical Review of Learning Gains Methods and Approaches

Rogaten, Jekaterina and Rienties, Bart (2021). A Critical Review of Learning Gains Methods and Approaches. In: Hughes, Christina and Tight, Malcolm eds. Learning Gain in Higher Education. International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, 14. Emerald, pp. 17–31.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-362820210000014003


In the last five years, there has been an increased interest across the globe, and in the United Kingdom 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 learnt and what is not yet known in terms of learning gains.

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