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Appendix B - Developing Program Student Learning Outcomes

Developing appropriate program learning outcomes is an important first step in program assessment.  Program outcomes guide curriculum development and review; in addition to being directly linked to institutional outcomes and the mission, values and goals of the college.  Program outcomes should focus on what students will be able to know, do and value when they have finished the program.  The outcomes must be measurable, meaning they describe behaviors that students can demonstrate.

Program learning outcomes are used for 3 reasons: 1) to narrow the scope of assessment, 2) to market the program and attract students, and 3) to meet accreditation standards.  Following are a few things one should know about program learning outcomes (All material in this section from Mary Allen, Ph.D.)

Mission, Goals, and Outcomes

Mission: a holistic vision of the values and philosophy of the department

Goals: general statements about knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values expected in graduates

Outcomes: clear, concise statements that describe how students can demonstrate their mastery of program goals

Faculty need to first decide on a program mission and goals before developing appropriate program learning outcomes.  The mission statement is a philosophical statement related to what your program intends to accomplish that is linked to the college’s mission and strategic goal(s).  You may want to review the dimensions of learning and college values and consult with key stakeholders as you write this. Program goals describe what the faculty want the students to know, be able to do and value once they have graduated from one of the College’s programs.  Learning outcomes describe how students can demonstrate that they have met these goals and are written in measurable terms.

Each program should have its own mission statement.  An effective program mission statement should be linked to the College mission statement and be written in a language so that it can be understood by students and parents.  A mission statement might provide:

A brief history of the program and describe the philosophy of the program

The types of students it serves

The type of professional training it provides

The relative emphasis on teaching , scholarship , and service

Important characteristics of program graduates.

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