Instructions: Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

DISCLAIMER: Some of this data in this section is fictitious and does not, in any way, represent any of the programs at Gallaudet University. This information is intended only as examples.


Writing Effective Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Definition

Characteristics

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs): the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students should take with them after completing a program or as the result of using services

A strong SLO has the following characteristics:

  • Specific:  Clear and focused 
  • Measureable:observable / verifiable not necessarily quantifiable 
  • Aligned with your unit’s/program’s mission as well as the Institutional  Outcomes
  • Rigorous: program-level goals should reflect higher cognitive levels

 

In writing outcome statements, first think of what you expect the student to be able to do after completing your program or as the result of using your services. A common approach to writing outcomes is to complete the sentence:

At the end of this program students will be able to (fill in the blank).
After using our services

 
The key to “filling in the blank” begins with 1) selecting an verb that identifies the observable skill, disposition, or knowledge the student will have and 2) ensuring it is appropriately rigorous.

Example:

  (fill in the blank)
At the end of this program students will be able to...

analyze and evaluate research published in professional journals employing a range of rhetorical techniques.

develop the Information Architecture of an interactive product within given parameters in a way that addresses audience needs and facilitates user access.
After using our services students will be able to...

systematically and critically evaluate the sources they for validity and appropriateness.

create concise and complete outlines of important points when taking notes.


 

Choosing an Appropriate Verb
Avoid selecting words that are unclear or open to interpretation. The outcome statements should also have the following characteristics:

  • Specific:  Clear and focused
  • Measureable: observable / verifiable not necessarily quantifiable
  • Aligned with your unit’s/program’s mission as well as the Institutional  Outcomes
  • Rigorous: program-level outcomes should reflect higher cognitive levels

A good rule of thumb is NOT to select skills, dispositions, or knowledge that are not directly measurable, such as “understand” “learn” "appreciate" "like" "believe" “know” etc. Instead focus on what students will be able to do, produce, or demonstrate.

The following are examples of vague and effective outcomes statements.


Example(s):

Vague: At the end of this program, a student will be able to do research.
More effective: At the end of this program a student will be able to establish and test an original hypothesis.
Vague: As a result of using our service, a student will be able to do an interview.
More effective: At the end of this program a student will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their interview skills.


The terms in the Bloom’s Taxonomy – Learning in Action chart (below) can be used to create SLOs that tap into the different ability levels. When using the chart, remember that the lower cognitive skills are prerequisites to the higher ones. So before a student can analyze (4) a situation, they must have knowledge (1), comprehend (2) that knowledge, and be able to apply (3) that knowledge in situations.

NOTE for Academic Programs: program-level SLOs should be appropriate for students completing the program.  The majority of your program-level outcomes should be reflective of the higher-level cognitive skills.

Download PDF of Bloom's Taxonomy wheel and Levels of Cognition definitions 

 

Highest
Cognitive
Level
Cognitive Learning
up arrow Evaluate: To present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas, or the quality of work based on established criteria, logic, or application in a situation
 
Synthesis: To combine different ideas together to create something original, to integrate ideas into a solution
 
Analyze: To break information into its component parts by identifying motives or causes; may focus on analysis of relationships between parts, or recognition of organizational principles
   
Apply: To apply knowledge to new situations, to solve problems
 
Comprehend: To understand, interpret, or explain learned information without necessarily relating it to anything else
 
Lowest
Cognitive
Level
Know: To recall or remember facts without necessarily understanding them
 

 

Revising Outcomes
It will may multiple revisions done over several assessment cycles before you develop the “final” version that best articulates your vision for your students. Don’t worry, this is a natural part of the assessment process. And, your learning outcomes should improve with each revision.

Examples of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

At the end of this program students will be able to...
  • analyze and evaluate the theories and applications underlying multiple data collection techniques used in psychology
  • analyze business information and infer the resolution of key issues
  • analyze and discuss the role of ASL in the field of linguistics, education, politics and media
After using our services students will be able to...
  • locate information and evaluate it critically for its validity and appropriateness
  • apply tutoring strategies that will help students develop independent learning skills
  • write concise and complete outlines of important points when taking notes

References:

Anderson, H.M., Moore, D.L., Anaya, G, and Bird, E,  (2005). Student Learning Outcomes Assessment: A Component of Program Assessment. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. Retrieved July 15, 2010 from http://www.ajpe.org/view.asp?art=aj690239&pdf

Assessment Handbook. (March, 2008). Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

Assessment: How to Develop Program Outcomes. (March, 2008). University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Retrieved July 15, 2010  from http://www.uhm.hawaii.edu/assessment/howto/outcomes.htm

Bloom’s Taxonomy. (2010, April 20). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy

Hatfield, S. (2009). Assessing Your Program-Level Assessment Plan. The Idea Center, (#45). Retrieved April 6, 2009 from http://theideacenter.org/sites/default/files/IDEA_Paper_45.pdf

How to Write Program Objectives/Outcomes. (September 2006). University of Connecticut. Retrieved July 15, 2010 from http://www.assessment.uconn.edu/docs/HowToWriteObjectivesOutcomes.pdf

Learning Outcomes. (2009). Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://provost.rpi.edu/node/18

Stempien, J. and Bair, A. (December, 2006). Introduction to Developing Student Learning Goals. Department of Geology and the Science Education Initiative, University of Colorado at Boulder. Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://www.colorado.edu/sei/documents/Learning_Goals-Geology.pdf


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