Graduate Learning Goals/Objectives

Departments/interdisciplinary groups with graduate programs in their purview shall be required to establish Graduate Goals/Objectives, Program Learning Outcomes with an associated curriculum map, and an assessment plan with an associated action plan, to be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies within one full academic year of approval of this policy. 

A. Graduate Learning Goals/Objectives

In developing graduate learning goals/objectives, faculty may consult resources such as the information submitted in the Instructional Program Priorities (IPP) process, the Graduate Learning Goals recommended by the Graduate Studies Policies Committee (see attachment), and/or the Lumina Foundation Degree Qualifications Profile in framing their learning goals/objectives and assessment components.

B. Program Learning Outcomes

Graduate programs shall develop Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) that represent their unique perspectives. Each graduate program shall define its own set of learning outcomes, specific to the level of study and to the discipline, which are clearly more advanced in content than those defined for related undergraduate work. For some programs, these might already be defined, at least in part, by external accrediting agencies. Such defined outcomes shall also form the basis for assessment plans within graduate programs and offer foci for future academic program review teams.

Program Learning Outcomes are designed with the goal of placing graduated master's or doctoral students into post-degree positions in secondary education, non-profits, business and consulting, government and private agencies, and other fields that draw on the knowledge and skills of graduates in the focused areas of their degree preparation.

C. Curriculum Map

Each program shall create a curriculum map:

  1. List all courses, both required and elective, as well as other required graduate education activities.
  2. Indicate where in the curriculum each PLO is addressed through development of a curriculum map. The curriculum map may be presented in many formats, including tabular form as in the following example:
Coursework PLO 1 PLO 2 PLO 3 PLO 4 PLO 5 PLO 6
GRAD 201 (core course) X X
GRAD 202 (core course) X
GRAD 203 (core course) X X
GRAD 204 (core course) X X
GRAD 205 (core course) X
GRAD 206 (core course) X X X X
GRAD 252 (elective) X X
GRAD 252 (elective) X X
GRAD 500 Culiminating Experience X X X X X X

D. Assessment Plan

Each graduate program shall develop a plan for assessing student achievement of its Program Learning Outcomes: 

  1. Identify graduate program-specific direct and indirect lines of evidence for each of the PLOs.

The table below summarizes the kinds of direct and indirect evaluative data programs might draw on to assess progress towards and achievement of two example PLOs:

Core Knowledge: Demonstrate mastery of the skills, methods, and knowledge appropriate to the profession or field.

Scholarly and Professional Communication: Demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills appropriate to professional and public contexts.

Example of Lines of Evidence for Assessing Graduate Program Learning Outcomes
Lines of Evidence
PLO Direct Indirect
Core Knowledge

1. Assignments in core courses

2. Completion of culiminating experience

1. Mid-course assessments

2. Program exit interview

3. Alumni survey

Scholarly and Professional Communication

1. Assignments in content courses

2. Early writing assessment

3. Pre-Candidacy project or examination

4. Presentation at scholarly meetings or in colloquia series

5. Papers/articles/books/grants

6. Thesis or Doctoral dissertation proposal

7. Culminating experience
    Doctoral dissertation

1. Mid-course assessments

2. Program exit interview

3. Alumni Survey

2. Articulate evaluation parameters for measuring introductory and advanced levels of graduate student development for each PLO.

3. Evaluate each of the PLOs based on direct lines of evidence such as those identified above, collectively supporting the evaluation of introductory and advanced levels of development over the course of each student's program trajectory. Emphasis should be placed on early assessment of indicators that predict success in the graduate experience.

E. Action Plan Based on Assessment Data

Based on the assessment data collected, each graduate program shall provide detailed information about action steps to be taken to maintain program quality and/or address identified deficiencies.

(FS 14/15-166) Approved by the Faculty Senate May 7, 2015
Supercedes FS 11/12-112, which was approved by the Faculty Senate April 5, 2012