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 your expectations for what students should learn through your program at UCSB, gather information about the effectiveness of your program’s practices, and make appropriate changes to ensure equitable achievement of your learning outcomes. Your PLO assessment projects can: 

  • Use institutional research alongside data that you are already collecting (i.e., evaluations of students’ work and educational experiences),

  • Focus on topics of current importance/concern within the program’s curriculum and practices, 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 provided Data Dashboards and your Program Learning Outcomes to find a topic of interest and practical importance
    e.g., “We’re clearly doing well with PLO1, but data suggests that there are clear disparities on student achievement with PLO 2. And that is a crucial milestone for their success 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 PLO2 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 to hear their views on which courses helped them most in gaining this knowledge/skill, and what additional support they need.

  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. 


WASC Equity and Inclusion Policy:

UCSB's accrediting agency (WASC) oversees the assessment processes of over 5,000 educational institutions and programs, ensuring that they engage in "sustained, evidence‐based, and participatory self‐reflection about how effectively they accomplish their purposes and achieve their educational objectives.”

Through this work, the Commission has observed that “issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are systemic, related to student success and institutional effectiveness in a number of ways.” Accordingly, it asks institutions such as USCB to consider questions such as:

  • What communities do we seek to serve? How will changing social demographics affect the way our institution serves its students and the public good?
  • How has our institution tracked and analyzed the educational achievement of distinct groups of students? How have we acted to close gaps between these groups over time?
  • How do we identify needs or concerns of distinct groups among our constituencies? How do we provide support consistent with the needs expressed by those groups?

Read WASC’s Equity and Inclusion Policy statement here.