Program goals are the defining philosophy of a program of study, laying out its purpose to all the interested parties— administrators, students, faculty, prospective students, alumni, etc. As such, they should be developed carefully. The goals of a program contribute to the overall program mission. As such, it is useful to consider the two together.
Strong statements of program purpose or program mission statements typically are:
The fundamental format for a program mission statement could be:
"The purpose of the [name of program] is to [primary purpose] by [active verb followed by core functions of program]."
Ex. General Science The purpose of the general science program is to prepare students to transfer successfully into 4-year universities and colleges with a thorough grounding in the core scientific subjects as well as solid mathematics and communications skills.
Program goals provide the long-term objectives of a particular program. A small selection of program goals is preferable to an extensive list. They should:
Ex. Psychology Students will study the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and historical trends in psychology in order to develop a fundamental understanding of the subject.
Outcomes are the specific behaviors and performance expectations that students are intended to meet in order to successfully complete the program. They focus on measurable and observable skills and knowledge. Outcomes worded in concrete verbs tend to work better for assessment. The following questions may be useful in thinking about specific outcomes that would be most important for your program:
Describe the ideal student of the program in his/her final semester and then determine that student's characteristics. Which characteristics resulted from the program itself?
What can this ideal student do? What does he know? What does she care about?
What experiences in the program have produced this student?
What should everyone exiting the program know?
Ex. General Science: Students can define and apply the different elements of the scientific method.