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Support for Assessment of Program Learning Outcomes

UC San Diego is accredited by the regional accreditor, "WASC Senior College and University Commission" (WSCUC), formerly known as WASC. To learn more about the university's accreditation, visit

Why Does Accreditation Matter to UC San Diego?

Accreditation process aids institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programs and assures the public that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness. An institution’s accreditation status has a huge impact on students’ access to federal financial aid, transferability of their credits to another institution, and eligibility for obtaining professional licensure in the field.

How Does the Teaching + Learning Commons Support UC San Diego’s WASC Accreditation?

The Teaching + Learning Commons is available to support Program Learning Outcomes Assessment, which is a critical component of WASC accreditation. We provide consultations, workshops and online resources to assist departments in accomplishing their assessment milestone laid out by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education.

→ Forms and Resources

Assessment Milestones

To download the complete file of program assessment guidelines, please click the link below. This guide will give an overview of the suggested timeline to plan and implement the expected assessment milestones (1-4 listed below) from now to fall 2019.

1. Assessment Reflection

To accomplish this milestone, departments are expected to use the Assessment Reflection Report form to reflect on their assessment process and to discuss successes, challenged, and barriers of their assessment efforts in the past five years. We offer consultations to guide departments through review of their previous and current assessment activities to prioritize assessment goals, determine needed data, identify existing data, and address challenges and constraints in their assessment process.

2. Program Learning Outcome Review and Revision

After the program learning outcomes are developed, departments might find it necessary to revise their outcome statements to reflect changes in the field, refocus their priorities, or tighten the statements for better communication of the expectations. To do so, departments can use the WASC Program Learning Outcome Rubric to self-assess their PLOs and/or consult with our assessment specialist for feedback.  

3. Curriculum Mapping

A Curriculum Map is a matrix that shows the connections between courses and program learning outcomes. It demonstrates curricular coherence, identifies redundancies and/or gaps in outcome coverage, and illustrates where in the curriculum a program learning outcome is introduced, reinforced, and advanced. It serves as a powerful assessment planning tool, and provides evidence for alignment between curriculum and program learning outcomes (one of the criteria that WASC uses to assess the quality of academic program). More information about why and how to use curriculum maps can be found at Linda Suskie’s assessment blog.  

Departments can get started with their development process by consulting with our assessment specialist and/or reviewing the curriculum map guide and template.

4.1 Assessment Implementation (Data Collection and Interpretation)

After defining program learning outcomes and developing a curriculum map, departments will be able to identify how program learning outcomes are addressed in the curriculum, and therefore select appropriate program requirements (e.g., lower-division courses, capstone course, internships, and undergraduate research experience) for collecting assessment data.

At this stage, you can use existing assessments (e.g., course assignments, student surveys, or institutional student records), or develop new measures to generate assessment data. The Commons offers consultations (e.g., rubric development, survey development, student written assignment development, and reflection prompt question development) and a suite of services (e.g., online survey administration, classroom observations, student focus groups, inquiry of institutional student data) to help departments select assessment methods and collect assessment data.

4.2 Assessment Reporting

Quite often, an assessment report is needed for dissemination of the findings, documentation of the assessment process, planning future actions, and responding to requirements by accreditation bodies (e.g. WASC and professional accreditation bodies). A typical assessment report would:

  • Contextualize the assessment work by describing the program, the assessed learning outcomes, and purposes of the report.
  • Describe assessment methodologies and procedures (e.g., types of measures, sample sizes, response rates, responsible people, timing of the assessment activities, a copy of instruments (questionnaire, rubric, prompt questions)).
  • Synthesize data from multiple sources around stated goals.
  • Align recommendations/implications with assessment findings.
The Engaged Teaching team from the Commons are available to help departments identify educational opportunities and strategies to address issues revealed by the assessment results.