Southwestern College

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a book on a desk in front of a chalkboard covered with words related to learningAccording to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) in their Guide to Evaluating Institutions, student learning outcomes describe the knowledge, skills, abilities, competencies, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, or values students acquire as a result of learning at an educational institution.  

An SLO is a statement of what a student learns as a result of participating in courses, programs, and/or other campus services.  The term “student learning outcomes” is used as an overarching term for all types of learning outcomes – it is an umbrella term.  At SWC we have labeled our SLOs according to where and how they are assessed.  We have ISLOs, GESLOs, PSLOs, CSLOs, AUOs, and SAOs.  Regardless of what we label them, they are all SLOs.  This is an important point as in their literature the ACCJC refers to all modes of student learning outcomes assessment as SLOs.

The ACCJC requires that SLOs be interconnected and organized hierarchically.  At the top of the SLO organizational ladder are Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (ISLOs).  ISLOs describe the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes students should master as a result of their overall college experience. 

SWC has 16 ISLOs categorized into the following 5 areas:

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Thinking and Reasoning
  3. Information Competency
  4. Global Awareness & Ethics
  5. Aesthetic Sensitivity & Historical Literacy
    (A complete list of SWCs ISLOs can be found here.)

In our academic disciplines there are three types of SLOs that align upward to our ISLOs.

  • Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes -- CSLOs measure learning outcomes acquired in courses and other instructional environments.
  • Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes -- PSLOs measure learning outcomes acquired by completing a series of courses associated with a specific degree, certificate or program.
  • General Education Student Learning Outcomes -- GESLOs measure learning outcomes of courses contained within topic areas in our General Education Requirements for graduation.
    • We have 3 general education plans at SWC:
      1. Southwestern College AA/AS Requirements
      2. California State University General Education Breadth, and the
      3. Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC)
    • Each plan contains categories of courses according to subject area.  Each of these areas has a GESLO.  For example, in the CSU Breadth general education we have a GESLO for each of the following areas:
        • Area A. English Language, Communication and Critical Thinking
        • Area B. Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Inquiry
        • Area C. Art and Humanities
        • Area D. Social Sciences, and
        • Area E. Lifelong Learning and Self-Development

In the hierarchy SLOs are arranged according to context: CSLOs align up into PSLOs.  CSLOs also align up into GESLOs and ISLOs.

A flow chart showing how SLOs at SWC connect to one another 

There are two other areas of SLOs – Administrative Unit Outcomes (AUOs) and Student Affairs Outcomes (SAOs).  These two types of SLOs are assessed by campus units that do not provide direct instruction to students, yet do provide services that influence student success in achieving learning outcomes.  AUOs and SAOs align up to ISLOs (see image above), and may be measured indirectly through unit-designed surveys, Institutional Performance Indicators (IPIs) , and other achievement-based measurement tools.

Please Note: 
  • At SWC all instructional and non-instructional areas on campus are required to design and assess SLOs and to use SLO assessment results in program review.
  • SLO assessment result analyses are used to improve, teaching and learning, student services, institutional practices, and/or to ensure that institutional resources are adequately allocated to support student success and completion.
  • The intent of all improvements and allocations is for maximizing student learning.


Last updated: 5/1/2014 8:56:27 AM