Program Learning Outcomes

All departments have articulated Program Learning Outcomes for their academic degree programs and posted them on their department web pages. For a full list, go to the UCSC Assessment Website.  

The overarching goal of Program Learning Outcome (PLO) assessment is to provide faculty in a department or program with information for evaluating student learning and identifying areas for instructional or curricular improvement. PLOs facilitate faculty-driven reflection on and modifications to academic programs, and give primary responsibility for identifying the need for programmatic improvements to department faculty. Click HERE to view the Campus Guidelines for the development and assessment of PLOs.

Annual PLO Report  

We ask each program to study one or more PLO(s) annually and provide a report in which they describe their findings and identify areas of curriculum or instruction that may need to be modified to better support student learning.

Purpose: The goals of the annual PLO report are as follows:

  • document the criteria used to assess student progress in learning
  • describe the study’s methods and findings
  • reflect on the quality of the curriculum, pedagogy and advising, and
  • suggest improvements to the program or to its ability to engage in effective assessment

In addition to facilitating faculty-driven improvements to the program, the long-term goal is to create a historical record of the faculty’s standards of performance for student learning, assessment methods and findings, and program improvements. The PLO report thus prepares the department for conducting the self-study, part of the program review process.

You can view a template and examples for the annual report HERE.

Core Competencies Assessment

The Core Competencies refer to the five competencies that undergraduate students are expected to develop in the course of their study: written communication, oral communication, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, and critical thinking. The Core Competencies assessment is carried out by UCSC faculty in the context of the undergraduate degree programs and is embedded in the annual PLO assessment process. For more information on the Core Competencies, visit the WSCUC link

Annual Campus Assessment Symposium

UCSC has organized and hosted an Annual Assessment Symposium since Fall 2014. This annual event brings together faculty, graduate students, assessment staff and administrative leaders from UC Santa Cruz and many other UC campuses. Participants discuss critical issues in teaching and assessment, share experiences and results, and outline next steps for campuses. The fifth Assessment Symposium will be held in on February 21, 2020.

Current Campus-Wide Efforts

In Winter/Spring 2019, all departments are invited to meet with AVP for Teaching and Learning Jody Greene and Assistant Director for Assessment and Survey Research Anna Sher to discuss their experiences, needs, and plans with assessment. This information will be systematically recorded, analyzed, and used to inform planning and resources to support faculty-led assessment.

In Winter/Spring 2019, we are using Canvas to create a space for each department to store their PLO-related materials over time and to facilitate collaborative efforts in PLO assessment within each department. 

If you have any questions regarding PLO assessment, please contact Dr. Anna Sher at