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image of hand holding silver pen for writingAn outcome states a learning goal to be achieved.  It does not focus on a process, but rather what students have acquired as a result of learning.

When Writing Outcomes:
  • Meet with colleagues to decide which abilities the outcome(s) should measure.
  • Review examples of outcomes from other disciplines and/or colleges, as needed.
  • Consult Bloom's Taxonomy and use verbs in outcome statements that reflect higher-level abilities.
  • Ensure each outcome accurately states the ability to be measured, and it is capable of being measured.
  • Design and align outcomes to support ISLOs.

Outcomes are described in a variety of ways.  Accurate descriptions focus on "what students can do as the results of learning."

Outcome statements “are anchored in verbs that identify the actions, behaviors, dispositions, and ways of thinking or knowing that students should be able to demonstrate” (Maki, p. 89). 

“Student learning outcomes (SLOs) are the specific observable results that are expected subsequent to a learning experience.  These outcomes may involve knowledge (cognitive), skills (behavioral), or attitudes (affective) that provide evidence that learning has occurred as a result of a specified course, program activity or process” (ASCCC, 2010).
Student learning outcomes assess the "mastery of the knowledge, skills, abilities, competencies, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and values at the course, program, and degree levels in the context of each college's mission and population" (ACCJC, 2012).

Descriptions of Outcomes by Type

Course, Program, General Education, and Institutional SLOs (instructional):

  • “identify what students should demonstrate, represent, or produce because of what and how they have learned” (Maki, p. 89).
  • measure “the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students have and take with them when they successfully complete a course or program” (Suskie, p. 23).
  • are statements about what students will think, know, feel or be able to do as a result of an educational experience.
Administrative Unit and Student Affairs SLOs (non-instructional):
      • describe what a unit is doing to support students, their learning and success.
      • “are the programmatic, operational, administrative, and support objectives that academic departments and administrative/support units intend to accomplish” (Stearman, p. 7).
      • are statements describing what an administrative unit accomplishes or achieves in support of student learning.

Structure of an SLO
Outcomes are generally written in a single sentence following a “student will be able to” format.  Although approached using this format, the exact phrase “student will be able to” is not required.  Compare these two examples:

  • Students will be able to distinguish valid from invalid arguments.
  • Distinguish  valid from invalid arguments.

Technically, both of the examples above are correct.  The second example is used more often as it is less wordy and repetitious (especially when compiling lists of outcomes).

Identifying Which Learning Outcomes Should Be Addressed
Depending on the area in which you work, your area may teach students hundreds (if not thousands) of lower- and higher-level skills during a single term.  While it is impractical to measure everything we teach, we can choose to focus on those higher-level skills in which your discipline or unit specializes that will most benefit student learning.

There are various ways to decide which learning outcomes should be assessed, they include:

Constructing SLOs -- Wording
The wording of each SLO should be constructed in a way that leads to the measurement and assessment of higher-order learning.  A well-established guide for selecting words that indicate higher-order learning is Bloom's Taxonomy. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy offers lists of verb types arranged on a hierarchical scale – listing the most basic levels of learning to the most advanced.  The hierarchies of verbs are categorized into the following categories, referred to as domains:

Systematic Review of Outcomes
SWC faculty, staff and administrators have designed and submitted learning outcomes for each class, program, unit and service on campus.  Systematically review existing outcomes when completing program review to determine if any SLOs need modification.  At any point of the year, your group may choose to revise current outcomes or write new ones altogether.  Once your group is sure of what to measure, create a rubric and select an assessment tool.

Last updated: 5/1/2014 8:56:29 AM