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California State University, San Marcos College Portrait

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California State University, San Marcos Learning Outcomes

Campus-Wide Learning Outcomes

Demonstrated in the organizational chart, learning is aligned across the CSUSM campus, beginning with the Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan. Next, the university Undergraduate Learning Outcomes (ULOs) and Graduate Learning Outcomes (GLOs) provide the foundation upon which all Program Student Learning Outcomes (PSLOs) are based. University ULOs, GLOs, PSLOs, and course learning outcomes, are aligned with AAC&U's LEAP Initiative and the five Core Competencies identified by WASC. PSLOs have been developed for all programs on CSUSM and are designed as measurable guides for assessment activities.

Undergraduate Learning Outcomes (ULOs)

Students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from CSU San Marcos will be creative, empathetic, and engaged life-long learners who are:

1) Knowledgeable in their field of study. Students will be able to:

a.Articulate, integrate, and apply theories and methods of a field of study to create professional, scholarly, and/or artistic work

2) Comprehensive and critical thinkers. Students will be able to:

a.Identify key concepts and develop a foundation for future inquiry

b.Analyze complex problems and develop solutions by applying quantitative and qualitative reasoning, integrating knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines

c.Construct well-reasoned arguments based on evidence

3) Globally and culturally intelligent. Students will be able to:

a.Apply multiple perspectives to address local, regional, global, and cultural issues.

b.Demonstrate an intermediate proficiency in a language other than English

4) Skilled communicators.Students will be able to:

a.Communicate clearly and effectively in both written and oral forms

b.Tailor communication to audience and context

General Education Program Student Learning Outcomes (GEPSLOs)

1. Describe and/or apply principles and methods that are necessary to understand the physical and natural world.

2. Compare and contrast relationships within and between human cultures.

3. Communicate effectively in writing, using conventions appropriate to various contexts and diverse audiences.

4. Use oral communication to effectively convey meaning to various audiences.

5. Find, evaluate, and use authoritative and/or scholarly information to comprehend a line of inquiry.

6. Think critically and analytically about an issue, idea or problem, considering alternative perspectives and re-evaluation of one's own position.

7. Apply numerical/mathematical concepts in order to illustrate fundamental concepts within fields of study.

8. Describe the importance of diverse experiences, thoughts, and identities needed to be effective in working and living in diverse communities and environments.

9. Apply knowledge gained from courses in different disciplines to new settings and complex problems.




California State University, San Marcos administered the CLA in 2012 - 2014.

California State University, San Marcos conducted a Value-added administration of the CLA in 2012 - 2014. The results are displayed below in the SLO Results tab.

For additional information on CSUSM’s process for administering CLA, please click on the Assessment Process Tab below. For information on the students included in the administration, please click the Students Tested Tab.

Why did you choose the CLA for your institutional assessment?

The CLA is a selected instrument for our CSU System. It was chosen for its ability to compare results longitudinally and show educational gains due to the CSUSM college experience.


Which California State University, San Marcos students are assessed? When?

We conduct the CLA in the Fall and the Spring of each Academic Year.  The students who are assessed in the Fall are First-Time Freshmen within their first couple of months at CSUSM.  The Spring cohorts consist of Graduating Seniors who started at CSUSM as First-Time Freshmen and are on track to graduate at the conclusion of the corresponding Spring semester.  


How are assessment data collected?

We identify our populations using a combination of official data sets (such as ERSS) and Peoplesoft.  We then conduct the CLA through a secure website hosted by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) who created the CLA.  A proctor is present to help with any technical issues and to make sure everyone has access.  From the website the students complete an assessment of different learning characterisitcs such as critical thinking and problem solving.


How are data reported within California State University, San Marcos?

The results of the CLA go to the CAE where they create reports for us.  These reports compare our students' scores to other Universities who have participated in the CLA.  We then review these results to measure CSUSM's teaching effectiveness, i.e. looking at improvements in overall scores between Freshmen and Seniors.  


How are assessment data at CSUSM used to guide program improvements?

The results inform specific programs and the university of academic progress and deficiencies. In turn, the results are used to improve areas in need and enhance areas that show progress.


Of 2165 freshmen students eligible to be tested, 91 (4%) were included in the tested sample at California State University, San Marcos.


Of 615 senior students eligible to be tested, 38 (6%) were included in the tested sample at California State University, San Marcos.


Probability sampling, where a small randomly selected sample of a larger population can be used to estimate the learning gains in the entire population with statistical confidence, provides the foundation for campus-level student learning outcomes assessment at many institutions. It's important, however, to review the demographics of the tested sample of students to ensure that the proportion of students within a given group in the tested sample is close to the proportion of students in that group in the total population. Differences in proportions don't mean the results aren't valid, but they do mean that institutions need to use caution in interpreting the results for the groups that are under-represented in the tested sample.

Undergraduate Student Demographic Breakdown

  Freshmen Seniors
Eligible Students Tested Students Eligible Students Tested Students
Gender Female 65% 60% 65% 71%
Male 35% 36% 35% 24%
Other or Unknown <1% 3% <1% 5%
Race/
Ethnicity
US Underrepresented Minority 59% 52% 57% 55%
White / Caucasian 25% 36% 36% 34%
International 2% <1% <1% <1%
Unknown 3% 12% 7% 11%
Low-income (Eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant) 24% 63% 58% <1%
Area of Study Sciences and Engineering 11% 14% 3% 8%
Social Sciences 14% 10% 16% 18%
Humanities and Languages 8% 8% 17% 18%
Business 9% 8% 6% 16%
Helping/Services 14% 27% 6% 13%
Undecided/Other/NA 9% 32% 1% 8%

Both Gender and Race/Ethnicity are very close to the levels in our student population for Freshmen and Seniors. The College of Business seems a bit underrepresented with many freshmen still undecided and with a possibility of taking a COBA major.

The VSA advises institutions to follow assessment publisher guidelines for determining the appropriate number of students to test. In the absence of publisher guidelines, the VSA provides sample size guidelines for institutions based on a 95% confidence interval and 5% margin of error. So long as the tested sample demographics represent the student body, this means we can be 95% certain that the "true" population learning outcomes are with +/- 5% of the reported results. For more information on Sampling, please refer to the Research Methods Knowledge Base

The increase in learning on the performance task is below what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

The increase in learning on the analytic writing task is at or near what would be expected at an institution testing students of similar academic abilities.

Seniors Detail

The charts below show the proportion of tested seniors who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.


Performance Task Make-an-Argument Critique-an-Argument
Analytic Reasoning and Evaluation
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics
Problem Solving

Freshmen Detail

The charts below show the proportion of tested freshmen who scored at each level of the nine subscales that make up the CLA. The subscale scores range from 1 to 6 with 6 representing a higher or better score. Due to rounding, subscores may not total 100%.


Performance Task Make-an-Argument Critique-an-Argument
Analytic Reasoning and Evaluation
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Mechanics
Problem Solving