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Program Learning Outcomes Assessment

Every undergraduate program at the University of Maryland is required to conduct annual Program Learning Outcome Assessments and submit a report to the Provost's Commission of Learning Outcomes Assessment. Graduate programs are welcome to engage in this work as well for iterative program improvement. If you are looking for help with this process, please reach out to Alice Donlan at adonlan@umd.edu

Broadly, the process of learning outcomess assessment requires programs to do the following each year:

  1. Define program-level learning outcomes that students will master across courses. These should be more broad than course-level learning outcomes, but still be specific to the program. 
  2. Construct a curriculum map to show in which classes students will master each program learning outcome. 
  3. Select which student work will be used to assess the learning outcomes. 
  4. Construct rubrics to assess the student work.
  5. Rate student work, and reflect on the results. 
  6. Discuss ways the program can adapt to improve student mastery, and/or adapt the program learning outcomes to better reflect the program's goals. 

Benefits of Learning Outcomes Assessment

We know that all faculty and administrators are short on time, and so it is important to prioritize work that is meaningful for the goals of the institution. Learning Outcomes Assessment has the power to promote positive collaboration and conversations around teaching and learning within a department in ways that create a cohesive learning experience for students. Learning outcomes assessment provides the benefit of looking at a program's curriculum as a whole, and assessing the extent to which it is meeting its own goals. It is particularly important that the faculty within a department define and assess their own goals, as they are the content experts who are able to evaluate student mastery. Setting measurable goals and tweaking curricula to stay on track is an effective way to iteratively improve a program over time. Learning outcome assessment can also provide opportunities for faculty and administrators to publish and present on innovative curriula

Important Resources

Learning Outcomes Assessment Guide

LOA at UMD from the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment

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