Graduate FAQ
Departments and programs express their aspirations for student performance through their Program Learning Outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions – Graduate Program Assessment

What are UCI’s expectations about assessing graduate (Masters/Ph.D.) programs?

UCI’s Academic Senate will establish a policy for assessing graduate programs that mirrors the undergraduate process and requires that each program:

  1. Establish learning outcomes for each of its undergraduate majors and update learning outcomes as needed.
  2. Assess these learning outcomes on an ongoing basis.
  3. Use results of these assessments to improve teaching and learning.
  4. Write a report of the results.
  5. Monitor changes implemented as a result of assessment efforts and determine whether these changes have resulted in improvements to teaching and learning (aka “closing the loop”).

While the Senate expects each department to continuously engage in these activities and assess approximately one learning outcome every year, each department is responsible for submitting an assessment report every 5 years.

Have learning outcomes been established for all graduate programs?

Yes, learning outcomes were developed by all departments in 2008-2009.

Please visit the Graduate Learning Outcomes page to view each Major’s learning outcomes.

What is the due date for my department’s assessment report?

While UCI is still in the process of developing a reporting schedule for graduate programs, we expect dates to correspond with the undergraduate reporting schedule. Please consult the Schedule for Conducting Assessments within the Major.

Who is responsible for writing my department’s assessment report?

The Academic Senate expects that assessment is a collaborative and widespread effort involving key faculty teaching graduate courses. However, Department Chairs are responsible for submitting the final assessment report. Importantly, results of assessment work should be widely shared within the department.

How do I write an assessment report for an graduate program?

Reports should answer the following questions:

For assessment work conducted in your last assessment cycle, discuss the following:

  1. Review Current Learning Outcomes: Describe your process for reviewing the existing learning outcomes for your major and describe the results of this review. Are the learning outcomes still relevant to your curriculum? Do the learning outcomes accurately reflect what graduates in your major/program will be able to do by the time they graduate?
  2. Method: Describe the learning outcome(s) being evaluated, the type of assessment evidence collected (please ensure you are using direct measures of student learning), the faculty and staff involved in reviewing the evidence, and how the reviewers evaluated student work (e.g., rubrics, group discussion).
  3. Results: What are the findings of your assessment? Attach relevant rubrics, grading criteria, and one or two examples of student work (e.g., an outstanding paper and a below average paper).
  4. Conclusions: How will you use these findings for improvement? What are your recommendations for the program (e.g., curricular changes, need for additional faculty, etc.)? Who discussed the assessment results within your department? Attach evidence that assessment results were shared within the department (e.g., meeting minutes from Curriculum committee meetings, etc.)

This information is avaliable in the Graduate Assessment Reporting Template.

Who reviews assessment reports?

Submitted assessment reports will be reviewed by the Academic Senate and the Director of Assessment. The Senate will use a rubric to provide feedback to your department on the quality of your assessment project (NOT the results of assessment).

Please see the rubric for reviewing assessment reports.

How will assessment reports be used by the campus?

The primary goal of assessment is the improvement of teaching and learning, so we expect that your department will be the primary user of the assessment reports.

The Academic Senate will review all assessment reports with the goal of providing feedback to departments to ensure high quality assessment practices. The Academic Program Review Board will review assessment reports as part of the School review every 10 years. And reports will be reviewed by WASC, UCI’s regional accrediting body, to ensure compliance with accreditation standards and to ensure the campus (1) uses data and systematic processes to improve teaching and learning and (2) provides high quality education to its students. Assessment reports may also be reviewed by discipline-specific accrediting agencies, such as ABET, CCNE, AACSB, etc.

Do you have any examples of assessment reports?

The reporting process for graduate assessment currently being developed, but it will mirror the process for UCI’s reporting for undergraduate major assessment and successful reporting regimes from other universities.

An example of undergraduate reporting from UCI can be found here, and some examples of graduate assessment reports from Penn State are availabe here. Please contact CAAR if you have additional questions about assessment reporting for graduate programs. 

This process of assessing undergraduate majors seems like a huge burden. How can you make this more manageable?

First, UCI wants to emphasize that faculty are already doing assessmentFaculty provide ongoing feedback to students about their progress, grade student work, and continuously assess the quality of their teaching. Assessment is simply a means for “systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations” (Angelo, 1995). While assessment does not have to be scholarly research (although in many cases it can be), it represents a way to empirically verify what you suspect is happening in the classroom. UCI expects that you will document the good work you are already doing.

Second, we are here to help! The Center for Assessment and Applied Research can help you with the process. Please contact us so we can assist you.

What additional resources can you provide about effective assessment?

Please visit our Resources page.

Learning Outcomes

View the learning outcomes of UCI’s graduate programs.

Assessment Process

Information about the assessment process for graduate programs.

Connect with our team

We’re here to help!