Academic Degree Programs & Certificates

Program and Student Learning Outcomes

Each academic program identifies both program and student learning outcomes that clarify and reinforce its mission. These outcomes provide the framework by which faculty make informed, evidence-based changes to the curriculum, program, or student learning; engage faculty in collective ownership of the curriculum; inform students of what they are expected to achieve; and describe the program to stakeholders (interested students, disciplinary and institutional accrediting agencies, employers, etc.). 

  • Programs should identify 4 – 7 student learning outcomes
  • Programs should identify 2 – 3 program outcomes
  • Programs with discipline-specific accreditation requirements may have more outcomes.
  • All outcomes should be measured at least twice in a five-year period.

Program Outcomes

The University’s goal is that all degree programs will achieve excellence and recognition for high quality teaching and learning, including the achievement of a satisfactory external review and/or accreditation. In relation to this goal, each program should identify one measurable outcome. In addition, programs should identify at least one more measurable program outcome that reflects the services provided or particular student achievement area of interest (retention rates, graduation rates, placement rates, etc.).

For examples of program outcomes and further assistance on writing program outcomes, go to assessment resources.

Student Learning Outcomes

The University has adopted four broad goals for improving student learning. Students completing each degree program

  • Will exhibit effective communication skills (written, oral, interpersonal) appropriate for professionals in this field of study.
  • Will effectively use quantitative and qualitative analytical problem-solving skills appropriate for professionals in this field of study.
  • Will demonstrate a level of discipline-specific expertise (knowledge, skills, professionalism) appropriate for professionals in this field of study.
  • Will demonstrate ability to engage productively in the review and conduct of disciplinary research appropriate for professionals in this field of study.

Programs should identify at least one measurable student learning outcome for each of these four broad learning goals.

For examples of student learning outcomes and further assistance on writing student learning outcomes, go to assessment resources.

Measurement of Outcomes

Measures for each outcome should be at the appropriate cognitive level and should provide reasonably accurate (reliable and valid) information useful for showing where improvements can be made.

Outcomes should be measured directly: examining student artifacts with rubrics, using standardized tests, or external evaluations of projects, performances, or internships.

In addition, outcomes may be measured indirectly: exit surveys, focus groups, self-assessments, employer surveys.

Reflection and Development of Action Plans

Information collected through the process should suggest potential changes to curriculum, policy or program requirements, assessment plan or methods, pedagogical practices, or technology use. These plans should be focused on specific actions to be taken over the next year.

Annual Assessment Reporting

The assessment process in each academic program is reflected through an (1) assessment results report and an (2) assessment plan report.

Assessment Results Report

This report is submitted in June of each year and describes the results of the assessment process that year (August – June) and the unit’s reflections on the results and what they mean.

  • List the outcomes that were assessed during the past year and describe the results of each assessment: describe the measure, the target, the sample, and the process used for the assessment. Provide support information: copy of the measure, related data or reports.
  • What are the results from the action plan(s) that was proposed for this year? Did you get the changes you expected? What happened?
  • Reflect on the results: what key findings and conclusions can be drawn? Was the target achieved? What strengths were revealed? What areas in need of improvement (curricular, policy/procedures, the assessment process itself) were found?

* Note: from these reflections come the actions for the next year noted in the Assessment Plan submitted in August.

Assessment Plan Report

This report is submitted in August of each year and provides the plan of action that the unit will take based on the results from last year’s assessment work. This report includes the following three elements:

A:  The action plan for the upcoming year

  • Initiative name – a short name for this action
  • Related outcome – which outcome/results prompted this initiative?
  • What is the purpose of this initiative?
  • What specific steps are planned for the year (implementation schedule, those involved, etc.)
  • What are the expected results? How will you know if this action has been a success?

B:  List which of your stated outcomes you will measure this year

  • If you have not already provided this information in Taskstream, describe how you will measure each of these outcomes (instrument used, student sample, when the assessment will be conducted)
  • If you have not already provided this information in Taskstream, describe the performance target for each of the measures (what level of performance you will consider as “competent”)

C:  What changes, if any, as a result of last year’s process, should be made in your mission, purpose/core function, goals/outcomes, or student learning outcomes?

Creating the Annual Assessment Report in Taskstream

For step-by-step instructions on creating an annual assessment plan, visit: 

For step-by-step instructions on creating the action plan portion of the assessment report, visit:

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