Student Learning Outcomes
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Course Student Learning Outcomes
SLOs are the observable or measurable results subsequent to a learning experience. They may involve knowledge (cognitive), skills (behavioral), or attitudes (affective) that provide evidence that learning has occurred. SLOs encompass students’ ability to synthesize discreet skills using higher level thinking skills and produce something that applies what they have learned; this is exemplified through a gathering of smaller objectives and applies analysis, evaluation, and synthesis in more sophisticated ways.
Guidelines for course-level SLOs:
- Each course should have a limited number of SLOs that encompass the major areas of learning expected of students by the end of the course (2-6 outcomes per course as a general guide but standards specific to your program may require more than 6).
- SLOs should be written for students. Use language that your students can understand rather than technical language.
- Course-level SLOs should be consistent across multiple sections of the same course. The assessments used by faculty do not need to be the same across sections.
- SLOs must be communicated to students on all course syllabi and match to the official course outlines of record (COR).
- Course-level SLOs for a particular course are analyzed during the 3-year assessment cycle tied to our program review cycle.
- When a course with multiple sections is assessed, we recommend that multiple sections be assessed. This will allow faculty to make stronger conclusions concerning assessment results. This is important when investigating differences between day, evening, online courses.
Must SLOs be consistent across all sections?
- Maintaining consistent course SLOs across all sections of a course helps faculty to analyze the results of SLO assessments and look for trends in student learning across time and across multiple sections. This also assures that all students will know what to expect when completing a course successfully. In addition, the ACCJC requirement is that each course has a single set of SLOs that is common to all sections of the course, no matter who teaches the section.
Course-level Outcomes versus Course Objectives
- There has been a lot of confusion, both locally and on the state level, about what differentiates SLOs from objectives. We are attempting to resolve this confusion in this section. Course SLOs and course objectives are intricately linked to one another. Course SLOs describe the broadest goals for the course, ones that require higher-level thinking abilities; require students to synthesize many discreet skills or areas of content; ask them to then produce something - papers, projects, portfolios, demonstrations, performances, art works, exams, etc., – that applies what they have learned; and require faculty to evaluate or assess the product to measure a student’s achievement or mastery of the outcomes. The assessment of course SLOs is useful in helping professors know where their teaching and learning activities have and have not been successful. Course SLOs also let students know what they can expect to attain as a result of completing the course.
- Course objectives are on smaller scale, describing small, discrete skills or “nuts and bolts” that require basic thinking skills. Think of objectives as the building blocks used to produce whatever is assessed to demonstrate mastery of an outcome. Objectives can be practiced and assessed individually, but are usually only a portion of an overall project or application. Objectives guide how professors plan the class lessons or activities that will lead to the desired outcomes as stated in the SLOs.