Program Learning Outcomes

What are they?

During the past six years and in three-year cycles, Foothill College has been conducting a program review of all of its student services programs. These program review cycles were conducted during 2003 and 2006. Beginning with 2009-2010, program reviews are to be completed on an annual basis to reflect on program outcomes and assess the need for resource allocation. As a part of this process, faculty will assess their program level outcomes and ensure alignment with course level and institutional level outcomes. This annual assessment process allows for reflection on improvement while identifying resources needed to improve success in meeting stated outcomes.

What are the foundations of this focus?

Assessment is a goal-oriented process. It entails comparing educational performance with educational purposes and expectations -- those derived from the institution's mission, from faculty intentions in program and course design, and from knowledge of students' own goals. Where program purposes lack specificity or agreement, assessment as a process pushes a campus toward clarity about where to aim and what standards to apply; assessment also prompts attention to where and how program goals will be taught and learned. Clear, shared, implementable goals are the cornerstone for assessment that is focused and useful.

What is our mandate?

ACCJC Guide to Evaluating Institutions:
Standard II.A.1.c:
  The institution identifies student learning outcomes for courses programs, certificates, and degrees; assesses student achievement of those outcomes; and uses assessment results to make improvements.

How to Begin Writing a PLO:

• Intended Program Outcome 1: What will the student think, feel, know or be able to do as a result of this educational experience. Insert one Program-Level SLO here.

This Program Learning Outcome meets the Core College Mission of:

Basic Skills



Relationship to Institutional Learning Outcomes

• Communication
• Computation
• Critical Thinking
• Community and Global Consciousness

Means of Assessment/Criteria for Success

What are the criteria for success? What tools will be used to establish and measure success?

Summary of Data: October 2011

Summarize the findings. How close were the results to the criteria for success?

Use of Results: October 2011

What do the data tell us about our process? What, if anything, do we need to do to our program or department to improve? What resources are necessary?

In this box, choose one or more ILOs from the list above that suits the PLO listed above best.

This box is where you answer the questions in the box directly above. What tool does this program use to measure the PLO? A paper? Project? Speech?

Answer the questions directly above this box. If you used the tool to the left already, summarize the findings.

Answer the questions directly above this box. Given the data from the assessment described to the left, what changes should be made to your program to better meet the PLO? What resources are needed? What can the Core Mission Workgroups do to help?

How to begin assessing a PLO:

To help us understand student learning and success in our programs, we ideally need to know their level of functioning when students start the program (baseline) so that we can compare this to their abilities at the end of the program (completion). In addition, it’s useful to assess along the way so we can measure their progress and potentially intervene if necessary. That is, we don’t want to wait until they’ve finished the program and left Foothill before we discover that we’ve failed to help them reach the outcomes at all.

The process begins by utilizing a matrix to map program core and elective courses to the PL-SLOs (previously defined during the program review process). Once mapped, faculty can reflect upon when/where students are expected to develop the identified competencies during the program and use this information to decide when, where, and how best to assess the PL-SLOs. This is also beneficial because it helps faculty to reflect on the role(s) that each course is fulfilling in the program. In addition, this is a great opportunity to collaborate with faculty in other disciplines to discuss how your learning outcomes may overlap or complement one another. A completed matrix makes it easy to see two things: which disciplines contribute to your students' development in your program, and consequently, which discipline faculty should ideally be involved in planning the program assessment.