Program Learning Outcomes

A Continuous Improvement Process

The faculty in each academic degree program at Biola University articulates what they want students in their program to have achieved--in terms of knowledge, skills, and values--when they complete the program. We refer to these achievements as Program Learning Outcomes. The program’s content, student experiences, and teaching methodologies are then aligned in an optimal way to help students achieve these learning outcomes.

The university employees a continuous improvement process to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of each academic program. The process has two regular phases.

First, is an annual phase called Program Learning Outcome (PLO) Assessment. In this phase, the faculty members who teach an academic program assess student achievement of the learning outcomes for their program. Each program typically has 4-8 formal learning outcomes and they assess one or more learning outcomes each year. This is not an assessment of the students, but rather an assessment of the program’s effectiveness to help the students achieve the learning outcomes.

Second, is a comprehensive Program Review. Every degree program participates in a comprehensive review at least once every five years. These program reviews evaluate the evidence of student learning in total over the past five years. They also collect and interpret evidence of other forms of student success, such as a program’s student retention and graduation rates, career placement success, alumni feedback, and reviews of the program from peer-level experts outside the university.

Each phase of program evaluation, whether the annual PLO assessment or the comprehensive program review, results in a careful analysis of the gathered evidence, recommended improvements based on what is learned by the faculty, and changes that further improve our academic degree programs.


Five Building Blocks and Two Reports

Our faculty uses five building blocks to prepare their programs for instruction and assessment, and they use two kinds of reports to document the results of PLO assessment and program review.

The Building Blocks

  1. Program Mission Statement: A clear and concise articulation of the program’s essential purpose.
  2. Program Learning Outcomes: What we want students to have achieved–in terms of knowledge, skills, and values–when they complete the program.
  3. Program Curriculum Map: A map (grid) showing which courses in a degree program are responsible to intentionally develop each PLO at the Introductory, Developing, and Mastery levels.
  4. PLO Assessment Plan: A listing of the student work that will be used to assess achievement of learning outcomes. (These are coursework assignments intentionally designed by the faculty to provide direct evidence that an outcome has been achieved.)
  5. Program Assessment Schedule: The 5-year schedule for annual PLO assessments and full program review.

The Reports

  1. Annual PLO Assessment Report: Annual reports about a program’s PLO assessment for a given year. Each report contains a concise description of the assessment activity, analysis of results, recommendations for program improvement based on the assessment, plans to implement improvement, and plans for the following year’s assessment.
  2. Five-Year Full Program Review Report: Reports from each full program review and resulting recommendations for program improvement. Full program reviews require assessment of several key success factors beyond student achievement of learning outcomes.


Program Details

Choose “Bachelors,” “Masters,” or “Doctoral” below to see all degree programs offered at that level, then choose an individual program to see the program’s Building Blocks and Reports.

Note: Because our continuous improvement model was initiated across all programs in 2012, several programs do not yet have complete sets of building blocks and reports. These elements will be posted as they are completed.