The Learning Outcomes and Assessment Committee (LOAC) was created in December 2015 for the express purpose to formulate and assess student learning outcomes for our Bachelors of Science (B.S.) in Horticulture and 2-Year Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) Certificate programs.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are the key component of a degree assessment plan. These are concise statements that indicate the knowledge, skills, and abilities that students in a degree program are expected to demonstrate at pre-determined points in their studies, as well as at the conclusion of their studies. Our B.S. in Horticulture and 2-year IAT certificate learning outcomes were developed based upon an American Society for Horticultural Science publication (Pritts and Park, 2013) and were evaluated to make sure they aligned with MSU’s undergraduate learning goals and reflect the Higher Learning Commission priorities.
Outcomes assessment is a continuous curriculum improvement process (Figure 1) that develops the connections between course outcomes and assessments and overall program assessment to drive continuous program improvement. Learning outcomes are aligned to assessments both for the program and at the classroom level. Those assessments are used to revise the curriculum and tied to teaching evaluations.
Figure 1. The outcomes assessment continuous curriculum improvement process
We are using both direct (quizzes, tests, group projects, case studies, written papers) and indirect (employer surveys) measurements for outcome assessment. Our goal is for 80% of our students to receive a 2.5 or higher on direct measurements and for 80% of our students to receive a 4+ (out of 5) on indirect measurements (where 1=unsatisfactory and 5=outstanding).