Instagram Combined Shape quotation Created with Sketch. 69

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

Course-level Student Learning Outcome (SLO) Assessment

Faculty regularly assess student learning in the courses we teach. We use that information to improve our teaching and our students’ learning. The Office of Academic Assessment does not require us to submit data from this level of assessment unless a Student Learning Outcome (SLO) assessment within the course is included in the curriculum map for a department program or is required for General Education Assessment (both explained below). In those cases, we submit our data either to our own departments for Program SLO tracking, as defined by the department’s Assessment Plan, or to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IE) as part of the General Education Assessment cycle.

What are Student Learning Outcomes?

Effective Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are descriptive (describe what a student will be able to do), are measureable, and are plainly stated (i.e. understandable to faculty and students alike). They should focus on the product or performance rather than the process.

Why are SLOs essential?

SLOs define the measurable expectations of learning in a course, program, or curriculum. SLOs, therefore, serve as the basis for all assessment of student learning that is a result of an educational experience. Assessment of student learning provides information that allows us to improve teaching and learning in the classroom, as well as academic programs across our campus. 

Student learning outcomes benefit students by strengthening academic programs and enabling students to articulate and demonstrate what they know, understand and can do.

Finally, SLO assessment and the subsequent improvements made to programs are a requirement of ongoing institutional and programmatic accreditation.  Institutional accreditation is essential to the College as it ensures our students have access to federal financial aid. 

What does a well-written SLO include?

SLOs must include the following things:

  • Condition – The specific context under which the behavior is to be demonstrated.
  • Behavior – What the student will do.  Be sure to use an action verb of the appropriate learning level (see Bloom’s Taxonomy below).
  • Criteria – A definition of the minimum acceptable level of performance

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

“Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical design of ways of thinking (action or performance verbs) that classifies learning or cognition into six levels; categorized from less to more complex."

   Level 1 – Remember
   Level 2 – Understand
   Level 3 – Apply
   Level 4 – Analyze
   Level 5 – Evaluate
   Level 6 – Create

Because of the hierarchical structure, it is logical that upper division and graduate level courses would require higher levels of learning, while lower division courses will expect lower levels in the taxonomy.  Similarly, one can infer that if a student can apply knowledge (Level 3), they have understood (Level 2) the knowledge they acquired (Level 1).  Therefore, each SLO should include a single action verb.

Please see Bloom’s Verbs and Matching Assessment Types for examples of action verbs for each level of learning. 

What if I want to learn more?

Below are some resources on writing effective SLOs at the course level.

  1. Office of Institutional Effectiveness PowerPoint on Assessment and writing Student Learning Outcomes
  2. Bloom’s Taxonomy Resources
  3. Five Guidelines for Well-Written PSLOs (PDF)