Students are assessed in various ways during their studies at the University of Idaho. Assessment is simply the evaluation of the satisfaction, quality or ability of students. Learning outcomes assessment focuses on how well students are able to perform or demonstrate knowledge of key indicators in their program of study.
Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)
Program Learning Outcomes are important because they guide the student’s academic experience during their chosen program of study. Faculty use their expertise in the field and discipline, as well as information from industry and other stakeholders, to define specifically what students need to learn or be able to do, to be successful in their intended field upon graduation. This ensures that U of I graduates are well-prepared.
Students can see the learning outcomes for their program of study in the U of I Catalog.
PLOs are different than grades because they do not measure how well you do in a particular course or on an assignment. Instead, they are used to measure how prepared you are for your field/industry by the time you graduate. It is a holistic evaluation that looks at many data points over your time at the University of Idaho. This data is also used to continuously improve the quality of education offered and student success.
Students interested in learning more about their program’s assessment or who want feedback on their performance of the learning outcomes, should contact their department chair or program head. The PLOs might also help inform conversations with potential employers, providing students with a list of valuable skills and content they have learned.
General Education Learning Outcomes (GELOs)
The Idaho State Board of Education provides a shared framework for General Education in Idaho, ensuring common courses seamlessly transfer among Idaho public institutions of higher education. The statewide vision for general education is that it “provides students with an understanding of self, the physical world, and human society – its cultural and artistic endeavors as well as an understanding of the methodologies, value systems, and thought processes employed in human inquiries.” General education is a part of a student’s undergraduate program.
This general education framework establishes six areas of competency, each with specific learning outcomes students are expected to demonstrate, regardless of which institution the course was completed at.
The six competency areas are:
- Written Communication
- Oral Communication
- Mathematical Ways of Knowing
- Scientific Ways of Knowing
- Humanistic and Artistic Ways of Knowing
- Social and Behavioral Ways of Knowing
A complete list of U of I courses meeting each competency area is available in the U of I Catalog. The statewide general education learning outcomes are published under the Idaho State Board of Education’s Policy on Statewide General Education (III.N.).
Students enrolled in courses that are a part of the general education framework are assessed for these competencies in their coursework.
Courses also have “course learning outcomes” or “learning objectives,” which are found on the course syllabus. This set of outcomes helps students understand specifically what is required of them to successfully complete the course. Mastering the course learning outcomes prepares students to master the program learning outcomes by the time they graduate.