Formational Outcomes: Connecting Purpose with Design

Formational Outcomes: Connecting Purpose with Design

September 15, 2014 The Conversation 0

Wider formational outcomes of learning and development—those that address the broadest purpose of higher education—should be put at the center of our learning designs. This is a central premise of the Formation by Design Project at Georgetown. And if we are to broaden formational outcomes across higher education, then we must make advances on measuring and assessing the outcomes we value.

One of the main outputs of a multi-institutional summer symposium hosted by the project was the development of a working set of five Formational Wider Outcomes. Each outcome is to be understood as a cluster of dispositional skills and abilities acquired and demonstrated along with disciplinary skills, knowledge and abilities. At Georgetown, we are calling these the Magis Measures after the Latin word for “more” or “better” often used by the Jesuits to describe an internal journey that brings new discoveries.

The Magis Measures

Learning to Learn. Empowered as independent learners, with curiosity and intellectual agility.

Well-being. Capacity for flourishing, connectedness, self-awareness and self-efficacy.

Resilience. Ability to adapt to change, take responsible risks and deal with complexity.

Empathy. Openness and ethical stance to others, with a global horizon.

Integration. Develop interior freedom and an integrated sense of purpose and identity.


To begin designing and measuring for these formational outcomes at Georgetown, the Office of the Provost has asked all Fall 2014 incoming freshman to participate in a voluntary Magis Measures survey. The survey is comprised of two validated instruments that are intended to measure such things as having an emotional openness to learning, feeling part of a learning community, taking risks and playing with ideas, comfort with conflict and civility, self-efficacy, and acting in congruence with one’s values.

This survey is part of a long-term study to determine the impacts of a Georgetown education on those who attend here: what is learned, how it is learned, and how it affects individuals throughout their lifetime. Periodic assessments of the students will be conducted at various points in their student career and beyond.

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counts as evidence

Path to Action: Measuring Wider Formational Outcomes

As part of the continuing work of the Formation by Design Project, other campuses are encouraged to undertake similar efforts to advance local and shared knowledge around measuring hard-to-measure formational outcomes. The project aspires to develop a toolbox of measures ranging from surveys to reflective evidence to observation of performance over time, as well as to develop institutional systems and policies that will allow for integration of data collected from multiple sources to gain a better picture of formational development.

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Mindy McWilliams & Paige Arthur:


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