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How to write program-level SLOs

Writing student learning outcomes for a program is a process that involves faculty, students, staff, and other advisors (as needed). The program-level student learning outcomes will help define exactly what every student who completes the program should know or be able to do at the time of completion of the program. The knowledge and skills may be directly related to the subject matter of the program or it may be related to the broader critical thinking skills that the student should be able to apply to the discipline.

To get started, all people involved in helping direct the program (faculty, students, staff, advisors) should meet for a brainstorming session. General and specific characteristics of student graduates should be identified. The resulting list of knowledge and skills should be edited and clarified.

Things to remember -

  • Keep the number of program-level SLOs reasonable.
  • Remember that you are working on SLOs that span several courses, not for just one course.
  • Focus on the broad set of abilities students should have at the end of the program.
  • Make sure the SLOs you write are measurable.

Some disciplines already have assessment tools that can be used for program-level SLOs (like state qualification tests for Nursing or Auto Repair). Other disciplines will need to develop some kind of assessment tool for the program. This tool could be included in a course students normally take toward the end of their coursework in the discipline or it could be a portfolio of work completed throughout the program. (These are just two suggestions of many possibilities.)

Whatever tool is selected or designed, the faculty members of the discipline must implement the assessment at least once per year. The results of this assessment will be used to improve the program and be included in such publications as the Education and Facilities Master Plan and Program Review.