Program Learning Outcomes and Assessment

Program Learning Outcomes
at the Graduate Level
Susan Bibler Coutin, Associate Dean of the Graduate Division and
Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and Anthropology
Mark Warschauer, Associate Dean and Professor, School of
Ann Van Sant, Associate Professor of English
Ruth Quinnan, Director of Academic Affairs, Graduate Division
January 2013
Why Graduate
Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)?
o UCI underwent WASC Reaccreditation review in 2012:
o WASC has been focused on Learning Outcomes at the
undergraduate level. New focus on Graduate Outcomes and
Assessment in the WASC review process.
o Campus Response:
 In May 2011 Graduate Council developed guidelines to provide a
framework for graduate programs as they develop PLOs and
assessment mechanisms for programs to use for PLO development.
 These guidelines recognize that each program requires flexibility in
this process, as individual disciplinary objectives differ.
Campus Response (continued)
 In Fall 2011 Graduate Council and Graduate Division initiated PLO
Pilot with five academic units: Anthropology; Criminology, Law and
Society; Education; English/ and Mathematics.
 Diverse program workgroup chosen intentionally to address
differing academic needs and directions in order to help guide the
broader campus with this effort.
 Workgroup involved students and provided participants with an
opportunity to discuss how to approach PLO development related to
their discipline .
 Participants consulted with faculty in their respective programs;
some variation in program-level involvement; some convened a
faculty subcommittee while others worked with an existing
subcommittee or brought materials to faculty meetings for
Challenges for Workgroup:
 Lack of models to follow: although programs assess
students in many ways, there were very few examples
available. This is truly a new approach.
 Undergraduate examples were not relevant as they
are very course-focused. At the graduate level
coursework does not map to desired outcomes and
 Should PLOs measure students or programs? Ideally,
they should measure both but focus on program
success in helping students achieve program goals.
 Assessment: How to assess in meaningful ways?
• Participants found the process to be rewarding
• Graduate student participation was also very
• All five programs successfully developed PLOs
and assessment mechanisms and plans
• The PLOs are intended to be “living documents”
that will undergo revisions and adjustments
• The campus is committed to the sustainability of
program learning outcomes and assessment, and
these will ultimately be incorporated into the
formal Program Review process.
Going Forward
o Graduate Council notified Deans in S2012 that all graduate
programs (Ph.D. and Master’s) must develop PLOs and
assessment goals over the next two academic years.
o Schools submitted plans for PLO development to Graduate
Council in October 2012. All programs must have PLOs and
assessment mechanisms by June 2014.
o During 2012-2013 the pilot programs chose 2 or 3 PLOs that
they will be assessing . Not advisable or feasible to assess all
PLOs at one time; be realistic with plans and goals.
o Assessment results will identify which program aspects to
improve or change.
o Goal: Translate results into sustainable way to enhance
student success. Develop a structure for ongoing
assessment, informed and targeted resource allocations, and
future improvements.
Pilot Participant Experiences
• How have your colleagues been involved and what
attitudes did they have?
• How have your students been involved?
• How was it helpful to be part of a working group and
to collaborate with other departments?
• How did you develop the PLOs?
• What are your current plans to assess PLOs? Describe
where you are in the process
• Do you have tips and suggestions for others?
• What challenges were encountered?
 How should we move forward?
 What resources are needed/desired for
this effort?
• Helpful links:
• Website?
• Other?

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