Using Direct and Indirect Evidence in PLO Assessment

There are multiple ways to assess the extent to which students are meeting PLOs. The two main lines of evidence are: Direct evidence (faculty assessment of students’ skills) and Indirect evidence (student self-assessment of their skills). We generally recommend collecting both types of evidence, as they provide different types of insight regarding student achievement of PLOs.

To collect direct evidence of students’ skills, faculty assess student work (e.g., lab report, research paper, final project, presentation) and determine the extent to which each product demonstrates mastery of specific skills related to the PLO.

To collect indirect evidence of students’ skills, students rate their own skills relevant to the PLO via a survey. This type of evidence is most useful when the survey questions are tailored to match the specific skills that are being assessed by faculty (direct evidence). Several campus-wide student surveys also include questions that provide indirect evidence of students’ skills:

UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES)

Biannual survey of all UC undergraduates that includes questions about students' self-rated skills in a number of general areas (e.g., analytical & critical thinking, writing, quantitative)


UCSC Graduate Student Survey

Biannual survey of all UCSC graduate students that includes program-specific questions about students' self-rated skills in their program's PLOs.