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Palomar College Learning For Success

Assessment Steps

Instructors regularly assess learning outcomes in order to make improvements to the curriculum and to help students succeed academically and professionally. When it comes time to assess program outcomes or course outcomes across multiple sections, however, the process becomes more challenging. This section presents an assessment model to guide faculty through the process of assessing course and program outcomes. The model was adapted from Walvoord and consists of the following four steps:



The first step to improvement as well as curriculum design is defining the outcomes that students should be able to meet upon completing a course or program of study.  Outcomes are the measurable knowledge, skills and abilities that students are able to demonstrate subsequent to completing the course (as opposed to objectives which are discrete skills and concepts students should learn in order to meet the course outcomes). Each course should have at least two measurable student learning outcomes.  When developing course and program outcomes, faculty should consider the skills and knowledge needed within a field of study, trade or career, or that help students think critically, engage civically and become lifelong learners.

The practical steps to developing, integrating, sharing and documenting outcomes at Palomar are presented below:

  1. Define outcomes – the abilities and knowledge students can demonstrate upon course or program completion.
    Create at least 2 outcomes for each course and program.
  2. Design assessment methods – how will you know if students have achieved the outcomes.
  3. Align outcomes – map, or align course outcomes to program outcomes, AND align course and program outcomes to college outcomes (i.e. general education/institutional outcomes).
  4. Build supporting objectives – objectives state the concepts or skills needed to meet the outcomes. Objectives are the means, not the ends. They are the building blocks designed to help students to achieve the course learning outcomes. Objectives may or may not be written as measurable terms.
  5. Document – add or update outcomes, assessments, mapping and objectives in Curricunet Meta and/or Nuventive Improve (TracDat).
  6. Share – share outcomes with students by adding to syllabi, through discussion, and integrating into course assignments.


Training Videos

  • Program Outcomes - Introduction to program level outcomes and how they inform the program review process.
  • Course Outcomes -  Introduction to course outcomes and how they inform the program review process.

Defining Outcomes

Aligning (Mapping) Outcomes

College Outcomes (General Education/Institutional Outcomes)
Program Outcomes

Steps to Defining Outcomes

visual of the process for creating course outcomes

Helpful Videos

Learn more about course and program outcomes and how they inform Program Review