Information on Student Learning Outcomes

Writing Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

Creating a good set of SLOs is an important part of being an educator. Through the SLOs we are articulating to students what a course expects of them by communicating what they will be able to do upon successful completion of the course. A SLO also defines what items the course will assess about students and sometimes even how the students will be assessed. Therefore, good assessment practice is derived from well-defined SLOs.

A well-written SLO contains the following elements:

  1. Performance – behavior or action the learner must be able to do
    1. “Be able to…” action verb describing the cognitive, psychomotor, or affective element
      Refer to Blooms Revised Taxonomy. The Iowa State University has an excellent page on this framework –
  2. Conditions – the condition or situation where performance behavior occurs
    1. “Given a…be able to…”
  3. Criterion – defines the level the learner is expected to reach (sometimes implied)
    1. “Given a…be able to…with X degree of accuracy

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to (performance/action verb) when (condition) within a (criterion).

Other examples of SLOs:

  • Following Completion of the Microbiology Course students will be able to use examples of infections, treatment, and epidemiologic control to compare and contrast the characteristics of prions, viruses, bacteria, protozoans, and multicellular parasites.
  • Given a list of criteria as determined by the class members who have participated in team-building activities, the student will demonstrate appropriate team skills as evaluated by his/her team members and/or the instructor.
  • Students will be able to explain the theoretical bases of various dramatic genres and illustrate them with examples from plays of different eras.
  • Students will be able to develop a viable research topic for which information can be successfully located in a variety of college-level resources.

Writing an SLO for BCC

The Outcome Assessment Committee is suggesting that departments use this SLO Template:

“Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Action verb…
  2. Action verb…
  3. Action verb…
  4. Action verb…

Example from the COM 101 Toolkit

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Review and apply basic theoretical concepts of communication.
  2. Apply techniques to manage communication apprehension.
  3. Construct and deliver a speech that illustrates communication theory applications and follows ethical practices.
  4. Analyze and discuss the impact of global, multicultural and technological influences on effective speech communication.
  5. Apply thinking and listening skills.

Final Thoughts

If asked to rewrite a SLO keep in mind the three elements. Sometimes it is just a matter of adding the missing piece. For instance:

Participants will understand the nine reasons for conducting a needs assessment.

This outcome is difficult to measure because the word “understand” is not very clear.

Participants will be able to list nine reasons for conducting a needs assessment.

Examples from:

Additional Resources

Here are some materials about SLOs (Student Learning Outcomes).

To Imagine a Verb: The Language and Syntax of Learning Outcomes Statements

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains

Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Handbook

Writing Measurable Learning Outcomes

Bloom’s Cognitive Revised Taxonomy

7 Things About Student Learning Outcomes

NILOA Learning Outcomes Assessment Resource Library

Measuring Student Learning and Achievement as a Means of Demonstrating Institutional Effectiveness

Writing Student Learning Outcomes

Verbs for Learning Outcomes

Implementation Guide for the Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment Cycle

Expected Learning Outcomes: Evidence and Assessment

Learning Outcomes Studies

Course Planning and Development: a self-paced online workshop
  – Lesson 1 Determining The Overall (or Broad) Course Goals and Content
  – Lesson 2 Learning Outcomes
  – Lesson 3 Guidelines for Writing Student Learning Outcomes
  – Lesson 4 : Examples of Student Learning Outcomes
  – Lesson 5 Assessing and Evaluating Student Learning and Achievement

Measuring Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

BCC Institution and Division Student Learning Outcomes

BCC General Education Compentency Courses

BCC Educated Person

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