Program Assessment

Program assessment is an ongoing, transparent, deliberate, and evidence-based process used to measure and improve student learning. It holds our programs accountable to students, families, and policymakers. It can provide meaningful comparisons between institutions based on student learning and other metrics. It encourages effective innovation in education, and supports alignment of programs with the university mission and the needs of society.

Questions Answered by Assessment

Program assessment can take many forms, but the questions that it should strive to answer are the following:

  • Do the learning objectives of the program meet disciplinary and degree standards?
  • Are students consistently achieving the learning objectives of the program?
  • Are students prepared for the workforce and society upon graduating?
  • Is the program being run well?

Frequency of Assessment

Program assessment is required for all SJSU degree programs annually. The format of the assessment report  can be downloaded from 2020 Annual Assessment Report template.  Assessment reports are due on March 15 of each academic year, and should be emailed to  

Scope of Assessment

The annual assessment report should cover a deliberate subset of the following areas of program assessment: soundness of program learning objectives, student achievement of program learning objectives, student preparedness upon graduation, and department operations, as well as action items from the latest program planning cycle.  Ideally, an assessment schedule that cycles through all areas of program review is developed and followed.  Example of assessment schedule

Program Learning Objectives/Outcomes (PLOs)

PLOs articulate the learning that should be achieved by the graduates of the program.  For help authoring or updating them, please refer to guidelines for preparing Student Learning Outcomes or Suggestions for PLOs.  

PLOs should be mapped to the University Learning Goals (ULGsSenate Policy S17-2).  In addition, courses in the program should be mapped to the PLOs.  

How to create Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

If you are creating PLOs for new programs or revising PLOs for your existing programs, you will find the following tips useful for your needs.

Student Experience

Students in the program should be aware of and be knowledgeable of the PLOs.  Suggestions include posting them on your website, listing them on your syllabi, or presenting/discussing them in an appropriate required course(s).  As we collect best practices in this area, some examples of emerging efforts are listed below:

Assessing PLOs (Program Learning Outcomes)

PLOs should be assessed using direct assessment methods which will vary depending on the nature of the information sought and program being assessed.  While the exact methods used are for the program faculty to decide, some suggestions and ideas are listed in Suggestions for Assessing PLOs.

Assessing Graduates

If your program assessment requires feedback from alumni, employer and/or an advisory board, a survey could be administered.  Please contact the IEA office for assistance in administering surveys. 

Assessing Department Operations

Indirect measures of student success such as graduation and retention rates, enrollment, and student-to-faculty ratio can be downloaded from the IEA website. This data can used to address questions regarding the demand for a program, the efficiency in which students progress towards a degree, and other programs served. A student exit survey is also appropriate here to get feedback on student experience and various areas of department operations.  

Closing the Loop

Closing the loop on assessment refers to deliberate actions taken to improve and evaluate program improvements, or to an affirmation that a practice, course, or program is effective. The action plan from the previous program planning review should be addressed here, in addition to other areas requested by the annual assessment template or those that may be revealed during the annual assessment process.  Propose a change to instruction, assignment, or policy. Implement it. Look at the next round of data and assess improvement. Repeat if necessary.

Other Resources

Submitting Annual Reports

Annual assessment reports should be submitted to by March 15 of every year.  


Tips on how use Nuventive for your assessment need


If you have questions on assessment, please do not hesitate to contact the Assessment Facilitator in your college, or the Director of Assessment.