Developing Program Level Outcomes
Developing Program Learning Outcomes
The first step in an assessment cycle is to identify the learning outcomes that should occur for each Program. A well-formulated set of Program Learning Outcomes (PLO) will describe what a faculty hopes to accomplish successfully in offering their particular degree to prospective students or what specific skills, competencies, and knowledge the faculty believes that graduates of the program will have attained by degree completion. The learning outcomes need to be concise descriptions of the impact the program will have on its students. Ask yourself the following questions when developing learning outcomes:
- What do we want students in our program to know?
- What do we want students to be able to do?
- When do we want them to be able to do it?
- Are the outcomes observable, measureable and can they be performed by students?
The Program Learning Outcomes need to link to the university’s core and experiential goals.
Relationship of Outcomes
Institutional Goals Or Drexel University Student Learning Priorities
Learning Outcome is very broad in scope. (Student achieves outcome as he/she completes degree)
Program Learning Outcome
Learning Outcome is broad in scope (Student achieves outcome as he/she completes program)
Course Learning Outcome
Learning Outcome is narrow in scope (Student achieves outcome as he/she completes course)
When creating Program Learning Outcomes please remember that the outcomes should clearly state what students will do or produce to determine and/or demonstrate their learning. Use the following learning outcomes formula:
Graduates of this program will be able to + behavior + Resulting Evidence
Listed below are a few examples from the College of Wooster of potential learning outcomes in Physics on the program level:
Upon completion of the undergraduate degree program in physics at the College of Wooster, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate a proficiency in the fundamental concepts in each of the major areas of physics.
- Demonstrate their ability to read, understand, and critically analyze the physical ideas presented in published textbooks and journal articles.
- Demonstrate their ability to present information clearly, logically, and critically, both orally and in writing.
- Demonstrate both an understanding and the practical application of the ethical standards implicit in science, such as appropriate attribution of ideas, good recordkeeping, and truthful presentation of data and conclusions.
- Students will be fully prepared for graduate study in physics and/or careers in scientifically oriented jobs in the public or private sector.
Listed below are examples of potential learning outcomes in Physics on the course level:
Upon the completion of Physics 101 students will be able to:
- State Newton’s laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation
- Use vectors to describe physical observations.
- Define the scientific meaning of work, energy and power
Correct word usage plays an important role in the development of learning outcomes. As stated above, all learning outcomes must be specific and measurable. Learning outcomes that state, “should be able to understand …” “should be able to appreciate…” and “should be able to know…”, are too vague and lead to different interpretations of what the student’s behavior will or might be. We need to know specific outcomes that will demonstrate how students will “understand”, “appreciate” or “know”. Specific verbs such as “explain”, “appraise”, or “apply” are a better, more measurable choice. The final part of the outcome is the resulting evidence which refers to the work that students produce to demonstrate their learning such as papers, exams, presentations, performances, portfolios, lab results, etc.
Examples of solid and effective action words taken from Bloom’s earlier taxonomy that you will want to include in expected learning outcome statements are: