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Undergraduate Student Learning Outcomes 2019-2020


Annually, the faculty of each undergraduate major, standalone minor, and required General Education courses examine student achievement of at least one intended learning outcome for their degree program. Through this work, the faculty confirm students are developing the skills and knowledge expected of a graduate in their discipline.  

For the academic year 2019-20, this page provides a summary of

Links to the intended learning outcomes for each degree are available here. An overview of the annual assessment process is available here. Undergraduate retention and graduation rates are available here.  

Please address questions to Laura Martin


Student Perceptions of their Learning

Across all majors, a large majority of seniors1 reported being highly or moderately proficient at the skills and knowledge expected of a graduate from their major or minor (Figure 1). Comparing these results to past years (2013-142014-152015-162016-172017-18 & 2018-19) indicates that the switch to emergency remote instruction at the end of spring 2020 did not lead to lower perceived levels of learning achievement among students.

These seniors also perceived growth in their knowledge and abilities while at UCM. Only three out of 10 reporting seniors (31%) recalled having high or moderate levels of proficiency in skills and knowledge particular to their major or minor at matriculation.

Seniors also reported substantial growth2 in a core set of skills and knowledge expected of a bachelor’s degree recipient (Figure 2). Global ratings, like this, likely reflect the entire educational experience, including the major, General Education, and extra-curricular activities.

Faculty Perceptions of Student Learning

More than four in every five undergraduate programs (82%) were pleased with the skills and knowledge demonstrated by students in relation to the intended learning outcomes (Figure 3).3  This indicates that, on the whole, students were achieving program benchmarks or were otherwise meeting or exceeding the faculty's performance expectations.

In drawing these conclusions, faculty examined diverse types of student work. These included short exam questions, research papers, reflective essays, experimental lab reports, alumni surveys, and capstone design projects.

The remaining 18% of programs that conducted assessment were unable to draw conclusions regarding student learning based on the available evidence, but made recommendations for improving on assessment methods in future years. No programs were displeased with student learning. A high percentage of reports in 2019-20 identify strategies for improving student learning (88%) or assessment methods (82%).

Faculty Actions to Improve Student Learning

While the majority of programs (82%) were pleased with student performance, 88% responded to assessment results by identifying actions to support continued improvement in student learning. 

Example actions included establishing expectations between courses, emphasizing students' intellectual capital, identifying opportunities to improve curricular scaffolding, developing course modules around key concepts, redesigning assignments to ensure students' individual performance can be assessed, implementing focus groups, and calibrating rubrics. 

Budget Implications of Actions to Improve Student Learning

Of those programs identifying actions to improve student learning,41% identified changes that require resources in addition to time from existing faculty or staff. These resources include faculty lines, instructional FTE to offer more course sections, and support staff .

Faculty Commitment to Examing Student Learning in Majors, Minors, and General Education

UC Merced faculty demonstrated commitment to systematically examining the effectiveness of their degree programs in cultivating intended student learning.  In 2019-20,

  • 88% of majors,
  • and 67% of standalone minors 

submitted a report describing their efforts to assess student achievement of intended learning outcomes. No reports were submitted in 2019-20 for the general education program, which is working with an external consultant on an assessment plan. 

Student Achievement: Graduation and Retention Rates

For information on undergraduate retention and graduation rates, visit

1Data from the 2020 Graduating Senior Survey. Values are averages across all students. For each learning outcome for their major, graduating seniors rated themselves as highly proficient, moderately proficient, barely proficient, or not proficient for two time points: the time they took the survey (Today) and, retrospectively, when they started atUCM (When started at UCM).

Data from the Spring 2020 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES). This survey is administered once every two years. For each skill responding seniors rated their abilities as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor for two time points: as seniors and when they started UC Merced as freshmen. 

As represented in the annual learning outcome report submitted by each program, including major, standalone minor, and required General Education courses (n=17).  For each report, faculty conclusions regarding student learning outcomes were aligned to a Likert scale of very pleased, pleased, somewhat pleased, somewhat displeased, displeased, very displeased. In Figure 3 specifically, “Pleased” includes scores of very pleased, pleased, and somewhat pleased.