“Program Learning Outcomes focuses on the knowledge, skills, and abilities graduates from particular programs are expected to possess.”(HLC Systems Portfolio Structure, Subcategory Two: Program Learning Outcomes).

Curriculum Mapping

Note: We are explicitly separating the course evaluation process (using CLOs) from the program evaluation process (using PLOs).  While CLOs may still be used to support PLOs, all CLOs do not have to be included in a program’s curriculum map.

Summary: Programs will create a curriculum map indicating the points in the program at which evidence will be collected to assess student progress toward meeting program-level student learning outcomes (institutionally abbreviated as “PLO”).

Justification: Curriculum mapping will facilitate departmental review of programs for coherence and quality and will contribute to Southeast meeting the accreditation criteria of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Important Dates:

  • June 1, 2016: Complete Stage 1; PLOs should be submitted to the Director of Assessment.
  • December 21, 2016: Complete Stage 2; Program curriculum maps due

Directions for Developing Curriculum Maps:

Stage 1: Submit Program-level (Student) Learning Outcomes. (Completed June 2016)

  1. Department faculty should identify PLOs for each of the department’s programs.
    1. Only undergraduate and graduate programs that lead to a full degree need be included. Certificate programs and minors need not be addressed at this time.
    2. Programs that offer significant choices in terms of emphasis should treat each emphasis as a separate program, although it may be that these programs will share several PLOs.
  2. Generally, 5-7 PLOs is an adequate number, but external influences (e.g. accrediting bodies) may require a program to increase that number;
  3. PLOs should meet the following criteria:
    1. Individual PLOs should
      1. Include action verbs that allow the outcome to be measurable;
      2. be framed in terms of the overall program instead of an individual course;
      3. describe what the students will do instead of what an instructor will do;
      4. identify specific skills, knowledge, or habits that a program completer should be able to demonstrate;
      5. be distinctive and specific;
      6. be stated in such a way that the outcome can measured by more than one assessment method.
    2. The program's PLOs, as a whole (i.e. not every PLO needs to address each characteristic), should:
      1. support the broad goal of the program and accurately reflect the skills, knowledge and dispositions expected of program completers;
      2. address each of the following types of outcomes:
        1. those that define certain types of knowledge
        2. those that define certain types of skills;
        3. those that require the application of skills and knowledge to tasks associated with professional or civic life.
  4. Programs are encouraged to use program outcomes that have been identified as a part of previous work (e.g. earlier institutional reports, accreditation processes) as a starting point.
  5. Departments will submit PLOs via the online submission process.

Stage 2: Identify data that will enable evaluation of program-level student learning outcomes (PLOs). (To Be Completed by December 21, 2016)

  1. During this stage of the mapping process, program faculty will identify assessments that can be used to evaluate PLOs.
    1. The simplest approach will be to select CLOs that provide supporting data for a particular PLO. Since each CLO is already associated with one or more assessments, the data necessary for evaluation of PLOs is already being generated.
    2. In some cases, though, programs will want to use external assessments or other assessments not tied to a particular course to evaluate student achievement of PLOs.
    3. There is no magic number of assessments that need to be associated with each PLO. This should be the guiding question when trying to determine how much evidence is enough: Would the evidence provided justify any claims we might make about this PLO?
  2. Curriculum maps should be submitted using the available Excel template. Below is an example of how the template should be used.

    To download the template for curriculum mapping click here

"Program Learning Outcomes focuses on the knowledge, skills, and abilities graduates from particular programs are expected to possess." (HLC Systems Portfolio Structure, Subcategory Two: Program Learning Outcomes).

Course/ Experience/
External Assessment
XX200 CLO 2: Students
will color with red
XX250 CLO 3: Students
will paint with all the
colors of the wind.
XX302 CLO 1: Students
will compose poetry
in the style of an
Icelandic saga.
CLO 3: Students
will compose a
limerick of heroic
XX544 CLO 3: Students
will create a scale
model of a Viking
CLO 2: Students
will compare and
contrast the
between the
Judean People's
Front and the
People's front of
Exit Interview Questions 3, 5, and 9 Questions 1, 2, and 4
A-1 Knowledge
Test (Pearson)
Section 3 Sections 1 and 4

Note: Curriculum maps usually include more information regarding where certain concepts are introduced and reinforced in a particular program. Southeast has chosen to focus first on identifying those places in programs where summative assessment occurs. It is likely, however, that in the future we will revisit the “introduction” and “reinforcement” stages. Programs may choose to begin that work now.

Additional resources related to developing program outcomes

Questions regarding this project should be directed to Dr. Daryl Fridley, Director of Assessment (dfridley@semo.edu)