The focus of this web page content is on student learning at Cal State-Channel Islands. Related sites are The Cal State-Channel Islands Assessment Council and The California State University System Resource Page for assessment of student learning.


We created the following glossary of four terms for use at our campus because we needed a common language for discussion. The glossary was approved by the Program Assessment Review Committee (PARC) in Spring, 2010.

Assessment of student learning is a reflective, ongoing, formative process for the purpose of improving student learning success. It involves: (1) creating and refining appropriate criteria and standards for learning, (2) defining and making explicit methods for compiling, analyzing, and interpreting this aggregate evidence of students' learning, (3) collecting, compiling and interpreting aggregate evidence about students' learning, in relation to the criteria and standards, and (4) using these interpretations to improve the design of curricula and instruction.

Evaluation of student learning is the employment of measures made for the purpose of making summative decisions about individuals. Examples of evaluation tools include graded tests, papers, performances and projects, course grades and grade point averages of students. While the process of evaluation may be explicit and public to the extent reasonable, the measurements and summative ratings of individuals are confidential and are not publicly disclosed. In short, we evaluate individuals but we assess learning in aggregate at the levels of classes, programs, etc.

Goal(s), in the context of student learning, are necessarily broad statements that describe the general traits of learning. "Goal" often describes the character or signature qualities of graduates from particular universities or programs, but goal statements can also be written for courses and even class lessons. A true goal statement is assessable, but only indirectly. Indirect assessment of a goal requires assessing the pertinent student learning outcomes that map to that goal.

Student Learning Outcome(s): Student Learning Outcomes are action statements that specify that a student must demonstrate achievement through some clearly observable action(s) or generation of appropriate product(s).

"Outcome" by itself has myriad uses, but "student learning outcome(s)," always using the three words together, refers to measurable knowledge, skills, values, or attitudes/dispositions in which students must demonstrate proficiency in ways we can observe and measure.

For clarity, it is advisable to be explicit and clear about the scale of the measure one is addressing by using the scale term as a modifier. Stating the scale of a measure provides clarity and further reduces confusion. Some examples are "program goal," "program learning outcome," "university goal,” "course learning outcomes." 

Programs who need to use terminology in accord with their own professional organizations' usage do so as needed within their progams' documents. Where possible and practical, documents written for use across the Channel Islands campus should use the four terms in accord with their meanings noted above.

Useful Resources

The CSU Channel Islands Program Assessment Rubric for Determining Stages of Development of Capacity in Programs was developed by Dennis Muraoka, Steve Lefevre and Ed Nuhfer and subsequently tuned and approved by faculty serving on PARC in Spring 2011. The rubric provides programs and program reviewers with a road map to assess their current state of assessment. Often chairs ask "Is what we have good enough?" At CI, we seek to have all programs reach the "Developed" stage in all categories described in the rubric. Download the rubric as a .doc file here. (MS Word, 54.5KB)

To view Adobe Acrobat PDF documents, please download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Download University of Massachusetts course-based assessment handbook

Download University of Massachusetts program-based assessment handbook

Download WASC assessment rubrics for general education, program review, program learning outcomes, capstone courses and portfolios in a single ZIP folder here.

Access the AA&CU Project LEAP Value Rubrics


Program and Course Learning Outcomes by Program

The following links bring you to downloadable files in Microsoft Excel (.xls) that present the current Channel Islands programs' learning outcomes and course learning outcomes of courses within that program in single convenient files. This information was formerly scattered across several hundred PDF files, and any comprehensive study that required assembling the information from these files was impeded or precluded simply by the time needed for compilation. We owe HUGE thanks to our wonderful Support Coordinators who took this large project on in July, 2009, and produced these resources in time for use in Fall, 2009.  These files were  generated  for use by faculty and programs for purposes of curriculum planning and assessment outcomes mapping. These should be regarded as working resources that are continuously updated. Please notify ed.nuhfer@csuci of changes, errors, and updates so we can maintain these as current.

To map your course outcomes to program outcomes, download the Excel screening template, (MS Excel, 18KB) copy your course information from the appropriate file below into the black columns of that template and complete the columns with red labels; then email that file as an attachment in .xls format to ed.nuhfer@csuci and to your chair/director.

Under no circumstances change or delete any of the published outcomes during your screening. All such changes must be made through the Curriculum Committee. If you discover published outcomes that are not assessable, erroneous, or inappropriate, confer with your chair/director about those. All changes to curriculum, including changes in outcomes or outcomes wording MUST go through the formal protocol established at the Channel Islands campus.

Program files designated as "working" show the state of those programs that are actively engaged in mapping course outcomes to program outcomes. Those without "working" files have not yet begun the process.



ART (MS Excel, 150.5KB)

BIOLOGY (MS Excel, 89.5KB)



CHEMISTRY (MS Excel, 79.5KB)

COMMUNICATION (MS Excel, 65.5KB) COMMUNICATION working (MS Excel, 78.5KB)

COMPUTER SCIENCE (MS Excel, 85.5KB) (COMPUTER SCIENCE working) (MS Excel, 108.5KB)


EDUCATION including Health (MS Excel, 393.5KB)

ENGLISH (MS Excel, 125.5KB)

ESRM (Environmental Science Resource Management) (MS Excel, 63KB) (ESRM working) (MS Excel, 79.5KB)

GEOLOGY (courses) (MS Excel, 34.5KB)


HISTORY (MS Excel, 86KB)


MATHEMATICS (MS Excel, 88KB) MATH working (MS Excel, 108KB)

NURSING (MS Excel, 72.5KB)

PERFORMING ARTS (Dance, Theatre, Music) (MS Excel, 127KB)


PSYCHOLOGY (MS Excel, 98.5KB) (PSYCHOLOGY working (MS Excel, 103KB)



SPANISH (MS Excel, 68.5KB) SPANISH working (MS Excel, 72.5KB)