Program Learning Outcomes

Determining if the Students Learned what We Expected – Assessing Outcomes

To ensure that we are adding value in learning, and acting as a learning centric institution, we must be willing to determine if students are achieving our learning goals and outcomes – adjusting to improve success rates where possible. To accomplish this, we must convert our intuitive sense of accomplishment to explicit definitions and measures of learning. By studying this article and its linked resources, and by using the associated shared files, you will be able to:
• Define common terms used in the assessment of student learning.
• Define a useful scale to determine the student’s level of achievement of a learning outcome.
• Analyze and disaggregate tests, projects, papers, etc., and correlate their components with course learning outcomes.
• Evaluate the impact of course changes on learning outcome achievements.
• Explain the relationships between program learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, and course structure and progression.
• Calculate program learning outcome achievements from course learning outcome achievements or by using key assessments at points within the curriculum.
• Describe how learning outcomes can be assessed for programs such as General / Liberal Education, Honors, and for extracurricular learning.
• Compare and evaluate external tools for assessing general education learning outcomes.
• Formulate standards of success for a program, evaluate its status, and set goals.
• Describe the relationship between goals and outcomes, and how outcome assessment data could be used to analyze progress toward goal achievement at the department, college/school, and institutional levels.

Defining What, Where, and When We Want Students to Learn

The most important step to becoming a learning-centric organization and generating the greatest value-add for students is to clearly define the learning we expect of them. This requires the development of a unifying and hierarchical plan for student learning, specifying institutional, college/school, program, and course learning goals and outcomes. By studying this article and its linked resources, and by using the associated shared files, you will be able to:
• Explain the interrelationship between courses within a credential, General Education, Liberal Education, and Honor’s programs, at various degree levels.
• Explain why learning goals, and their derivative learning outcomes, are necessary to clearly define the learning expectations of our students for each credential, and should predominantly be written, or at least approved by, the faculty of the department.
• Compose program learning outcomes based on the Bloom’s Taxonomy level that is most appropriate for the credential/degree.
• Guide the development of learning goals and outcomes for the entire curriculum of the institution.
• Explain what the Degree Qualification Profile and the Tuning initiatives are, and how they might aid an institution in setting learning outcomes for various degree levels and programs.
• Develop learning goals and outcomes to help students transition successfully into college.
• Explain the difference between the curriculum, the co-curriculum, and the extra-curriculum.
• Explain why and how Honor’s Program learning outcomes should differ from those within traditional courses.
• Design a faculty development exercise to help faculty learn the curriculum design process using a non-threatening approach.
• Explain the potential sources of information on which program learning outcomes could be based.
• Explain the relationship between program and course learning outcomes, between course level and Bloom’s level, and how course level outcomes progressively develop toward achievement of the program outcome.
• Explain how course learning outcomes can be aggregated to form courses with appropriate co- and pre-requisites.
• Explain how a course might support learning outcomes from multiple programs such as the major, General Education, and Honors.