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Writing SLO's

 

How to Write Student Learning Outcomes for Your Program

Writing student learning outcomes for your program is a process that involves faculty, students, and staff. Like all procedures, composing SLOs collaboratively is done in logical steps with one activity leading to the next.

Begin the process with a meeting involving all the stakeholders. Elect an editor in chief to take notes and manage the various drafts generated in the process. This initial meeting, begins with a brainstorm session in which participants describe what an ideal graduate should know and what they should be able to do upon completion of the program. The world wide web has various examples of discipline and program specific student learning outcomes.

In the next step of the process, the editor in chief composes the first draft of student learning outcomes from the notes taken in the initial brainstorming and collaborative writing session. This first draft is reviewed by all participants with the editor in chief making corrections, additions, deletions, and revisions as deemed necessary. This revising process will continue until a definitive set of outcomes are agreed upon for the currency of the discipline or service area and the characteristics of the student served.

As the discipline, service, and student population change, so do the student learning outcomes; this is why evaluation of SLOs must be integrated into both curriculum and program review.

Student learning outcomes are published in the educational master plan, strategic plan, college catalog, course outlines, and course syllabi. Our students understand before enrolling what knowledge, skills, and behavior are expected by the end of the course or program.

At the end of the semester or academic year, survey the students, teachers, and staff involved in the course or program to find out how well students achieve the learning objectives and their views on the assessment instruments used to judge how well the objectives are attained. Use this valuable information to maintain successful courses and programs as well as make adjustments to gain more student success.

How to Write Student Learning Outcomes for Your Class

Writing student learning outcomes for your class is quite easy because essentially you are already doing it. Teachers are required to include course objectives and methods of evaluation in course outlines and syllabi, and that is all an SLO is: it is the combination of learning objectives with teacher-specified assessment instruments chosen to measure to what degree the learning objective is met.

The following are examples from a Grossmont College ESL class:

Student Learning Outcomes for ESL 81: Introduction to ESL: Communication

Upon completion of this course, students will …

  1. Receive, interpret correctly, and respond accurately to basic verbal messages and other cues that are commonly heard in college classroom settings as measured by completion and accuracy of individual and group tasks which are graded by teacher-generated rubrics and student self-evaluation.
     
  2. Speak with some accuracy and with an understandable accent when using the basic language functions needed to communicate effectively in college, such as explaining information, asking questions, and turn taking in discussions; accuracy and fluency are measured by teacher-generated grading rubrics as well as student self-evaluation.
     
  3. Demonstrate appropriate social behaviors and knowledge of cross-cultural differences in working with other people in class; the appropriateness of the behavior is observed by both the teacher and students.
     
  4. Use a range of learning strategies to acquire and apply new knowledge of the language to increase skills in understanding and using spoken English. The effectiveness of the language learning strategies is determined by teacher-generated tests and quizzes as well as the completion and accuracy of in-class and extra-class assignments.
     
  5. Choose campus and community services effectively to reach goals and solve problems; this objective is measured by the students’ use of the services, primarily the Grossmont College Reading and Writing Centers.


The assessment instruments used to measure to what degree the learning objective is met must be specified in an SLO. The Grossmont College course outline template used by the Curriculum Committee includes course objectives and methods of evaluating student performance. Our faculty have already determined the objectives and assessment instruments measuring how successfully each objective is reached; to write an SLO, clearly state what your students’ primary expectations are in the course and how you evaluate to what degree they achieve the outcomes.

In order to write the student learning objectives, meet with your colleagues who have also taught the course. Brainstorm the core learning objectives in the course and the many ways you assess achievement of the objectives. While discussing the assessment instruments, make sure you show examples of tests, quizzes, rubrics, checklists, and in-class and extra-class assignments used to measure the learning objectives of the course. Be willing to share. Be willing to compromise if a standardized test or rubric is necessary. This is particularly the case with multiple sections of the same course. Once consensus is met, draft the SLOs. Make sure you include the SLOs in all course syllabi and that students have a clear understanding of their expectations when going over the syllabus on the first day of each class.

Knowing what students will achieve in your course and how that will be measured are of supreme importance to all in education. Teachers who are engaged in the continual evaluation of course content, delivery methods, teaching and learning resources, and assessment instruments are assured they are doing their personal best to achieve student success.

 

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