What are Program Learning Outcomes (PLO’s)?
What we refer to as “program learning outcome assessment” is the process of using performance on assignments to measure whether students were effectively able to acquire the particular knowledge, skills, and attitudes intended in the major. This process provides faculty the opportunity to identify what is working and what could be strengthened in a delivery of their courses. It’s all about data-driven decision making and evolving our curriculum.
The University of Hartford uses a software called Planning & Self Study (P&SS) to collect data on all program-level assessment across the university in one centralized location. Student Learning & Licensure (SL&L) is another assessment software that the university currently enjoys (the use of this software is optional); this software allows programs to collect more targeted assessment data, at the course level. Both Planning & Self Study as well as Student Learning & Licensure are products of a company called Watermark.
Please be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any assistance with editing your learning outcomes, choosing an academic assessment project, collecting data on a project, analyzing results, or navigating any assessment software.
Short Video Instructions on How to Do Program Learning Assessment at UHart
Assessment and Continuous Improvement
This video series will inform you how to break down academic assessment so that it is meaningful and helpful to you. This video will also fill you in on how you can complete your assessment projects annually.
Student Learning Outcomes
This video will inform faculty about the importance of well written program learning outcomes, what constitutes a well written learning outcome, as well as ideas for verbs to use in program learning outcomes. This video will challenge faculty to evaluate their existing program.
Program Learning Outcomes in Planning and Self Study
This video will instruct faculty on how they can upload or edit their program learning outcomes in Planning & Self Study (an assessment software used by the University of Hartford).
Assessment Project Ideas from Faculty at UHart
Need ideas for a program assessment project for the academic assessment year? In this workshop, we will cover some ways that other faculty have planned out their program learning outcomes assessment. Topics covered range from ideas for which assignments to use, to rubrics, to ideas for how to save time curriculum mapping.
The purpose of this video is to introduce faculty and academic leaders to curriculum maps and how to create them in a way that makes sense.
Curriculum Map in Planning and Self Study
This video will guide faculty as to how to create a curriculum map in Planning & Self Study.
The purpose of this video is to introduce to faculty and academic leaders to potential measures for assessing the achievement of program learning outcomes. These steps would also apply in the assessment of course learning outcomes and essential learning outcomes.
Measures in Planning and Self Study
This video will show faculty how they can update the description of their assessment projects in Planning & Self Study.
Results and Closing the Loop
The purpose of this video is to introduce to faculty and academic leaders to “closing the loop”. These steps would also apply in the assessment of course learning outcomes and essential learning outcomes.
Results in Planning and Self Study
This video will share with faculty about how they can input their results into Planning & Self Study and how they can submit their projects.
What are Essential Learning Outcomes (ELO’s)?
Essential learning outcomes describe what every undergraduate should know and be able to do upon graduation, regardless of major. In order to achieve that goal, students need to be given opportunities to acquire and practice the knowledge and skills identified as “essential” in both their general education and in their disciplinary majors or programs of study.
The university conducts annual assessment of randomly selected and de-identified First-Year Writing papers from WRT 110W both in the fall and spring semesters in order to evaluate incoming students’ academic writing and to establish a baseline. Each year upper-level junior and senior papers are also assessed using the same AACU rubric to evaluate the quality of pre-baccalaureate academic writing. The upper-level papers are selected from different majors and colleges on a rotating basis. Assessment coders include teams of discipline-specific instructors and generalist writing instructors.
The university assesses four essential outcomes on a four-year rotation at the program level:
- Written communication
- Oral communication
- Critical thinking
Responsibilities of Academic Programs
All undergraduate programs have been charged with identifying a product or products to be assessed for Written Communication, Oral Communication, Critical Thinking, and Teamwork/Collaboration during the senior year, and in some cases, the spring of the junior year. When a program is scheduled for assessment, the faculty member in whose course the product is produced collects a sample of the products: 25% of the seniors, but no less than 10, unless there are fewer than 10 seniors, in which case they are all collected. The product should be de-identified (any student identifiers removed) and instead given a number. It is best to collect these products before they are graded, but if they have been graded all comments and grades should also be redacted.
The products are assessed using the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) VALUE rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). The assessment should be conducted by a faculty member other than the one who assigned it however, exceptions may be made in programs with fewer full-time faculty. Training workshops are held each fall to familiarize faculty members with the rubrics. Using experienced writing coders, the university assesses first-year writing with the AACU rubric by sampling 25% of the students in WRT 110 each year. For the senior-level writing assessment, faculty should contact Patricia Morelli, Director of the Tutoring Center, who will pair faculty with a writing coder. For all other assessments to minimize bias, two members of the department should score the products and discuss their scores.
All assessment results are reported to the school or college assessment representative and the assistant director of assessment using a spreadsheet designed for the purpose. Since these spreadsheets are used to produce reports for colleges, we ask that they not be adapted or altered.