What Are Student Learning Outcomes?
Student Learning Outcomes are a result of an increased emphasis on the assessment of student
learning as a means to evaluate and improve educational effectiveness. Current ACCJC (Accrediting Commission
for Community and Junior Colleges) standards require institutions to identify SLOs for all courses, programs,
certificates and degrees, and for all student services. We are expected to assess these outcomes and use the
results as a basis for making changes and improvements, if necessary. By 2012, we need to demonstrate that
we have SLOs and assessment plans
for these areas, and that we use the assessment results planning and budgeting.
rubric used by ACCJC describes this as the “proficiency level”
which is where we need to be by 2012. The College must have SLOs in place at these levels: course, program,
institution/GE, and service areas. The College must demonstrate that our decision-making is based on assessment results.
Further, we must communicate these SLOs to students.
The Cycle. SLOAC is: Student Learning Outcome Assessment Cycle.
It consists of these 5 steps: defining and writing SLOs and assessment
plans; conducting the assessments; evaluating the results; and making
adjustments for us and our students based on those assessment results.
The cycle repeats as faculty and the College review the courses,
programs, and services and/or want to make changes to the SLOs and
As faculty, we assess students regularly. We use test, quiz, and assignment results to evaluate individual student progress.
The results are given to students as feedback on their progress and/or achievement.
Note that the grade we give a student can reflect the student’s knowledge, but it can also reflect a result of student behavior,
e.g. missing or incomplete assignments resulting from absenteeism or other reasons for not completing course requirements.
Student Learning Outcomes are designed to be assessed in
order to provide input to faculty and to the college specifically
about the students’ knowledge, abilities, and behavior. In contrast
to how we evaluate students individually, the SLO itself is assessed
to see how groups of students are doing. The results are used to
evaluate student learning in general and to give evidence for
making any changes for improvement, if necessary.
All accrediting agencies today require colleges to
engage in ongoing assessment. Assessment can serve
two major purposes: to provide our accrediting agency
with evidence of student learning and program quality,
and to gain useful information we can use to improve our
programs and services for students. Through assessment,
we can identify and celebrate our successes, and investigate
and improve areas in which our students may not be learning
or growing as much as we would want.
Assessing outcomes may appear threatening to us. Students come to us from very diverse backgrounds with very diverse needs. Not all students will pass our classes or graduate. Some students do not care, and they do not try. That being said, we can also acknowledge that there are many students who do care, who do study, and who can and do pass our courses and programs and graduate. It is our engagements with these students that make a difference. What improvements or changes can we make that will more effectively help our students? This process begins by using evidence (data) to make those improvements. The cycle of articulating desired outcomes, assessing those outcomes, and using the data for improvement, is called the assessment loop. Click
for more information on defining, writing, and assessing SLOs.
How Can SLOAC Help Us?
While institutions are
required to implement learning outcomes, the process has several
benefits to us and to our students. Notable is the increased dialog among faculty about how our
students are learning. In
today’s dynamic world and in today’s learning environment such as the
one in which we teach, it is critical that we keep current with our
students’ needs while maintaining the integrity and standards of our
courses, programs, and our institution’s goals.
Additionally, as faculty we can better identify what the
institution can do to assist us if we have evidence of what is needed.
Ultimately, as faculty we care about student learning and what
we, as professionals, can do to help our students to succeed.
How Can SLOAC Help Our
outcomes to students will provide an upfront understanding of what
students are expected to demonstrate by the end of a course, program,
degree, or a service that we provide to the student.
Increased communication between the faculty and the student is a
benefit as well as increased communication between the College and the
Learning outcomes should not be a mystery to students, and all SLOs
should be broadly disseminated to them.
The ACCJC standards explicitly state this, so we are therefore
charged to demonstrate strategies to communicate SLOs to students.
It is important that we discuss as an institution how this will
SLOAC workshops will
resume in Fall 2012.
(760) 744-1150 ext. 2451
(760) 744-1150 ext. 3640
The SLOAC Office is closed during Summer 2012.