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
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
How to Write Student Learning Outcomes for
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:
Upon completion of this course, students will …
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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