Assessment How-To


Assessment of all degree-granting programs at UCSB is required to maintain our standing as a federally accredited public university. Assessment at UCSB is (A) faculty-driven, (B) manageable in scope, and (C) of direct benefit to programs. Assessment is an opportunity to define what students should learn in their high-quality UCSB education, gather information about the effectiveness of your program’s practices, and make appropriate changes. PLO assessment projects can: 

  • Use data you are already collecting (via your evaluations of students’ work and their educational experiences), 

  • Focus on topics of current importance/concern within the program’s curriculum, and 

  • Help you to answer questions and inform changes already being discussed among program faculty.

The assessment team is here to help. We want to make sure that every assessment plan has faculty buy-in, supports practical goals, and strategically utilizes data from existing assessments for maximum benefit with minimum additional work for instructors — whose priority is educating their students. Done correctly, PLO assessments directly serve this goal of quality learning for students in your program, providing you with an opportunity to:

  1. Review your Program Learning Outcomes 
    e.g., “We’re clearly doing well with PLO1, but we could use some data on how students are doing with PLO 2. Especially after taking the EG101 series.

  2. Update your Curriculum Map 
    e.g., “We revised the EG120 series so it now addresses PLO3. But we don’t currently have any courses where students practice PLO4! Is that important to us? If not, we can revise that PLO; if so, we may consider adjustments to our curriculum.

  3. Create a simple, targeted Assessment Plan to explore any current issues that you notice related to your Program LOs and curriculum 
    e.g., “Let’s create a scoring guide to look directly at how students are doing on PLO3 by the end of the EG120 series. We can collect a sample of their final papers over 3 years as data. We can also survey them, if we want to hear their views on which courses most helped them gain this knowledge/skill.

  4. Receive Grant Funding to support your work on this assessment 
    e.g., “We can hire and train a few grad students to use this scoring guide on the EG120 papers. We can also reach out to the assessment coordinator at any time for help with drafting the scoring guide or student surveys.

  5. With support from the assessment team, determine what question you would like to focus on to study and improve student learning. You can then apply for an assessment grant to conduct the study. 

The PLO assessment process is a valuable way to propel existing discussions and initiatives within your program.