Student Guide - FAQ on SLOs
1. What is a Student Learning Outcome?
Student learning outcomes are general skills, knowledge, or masteries which students are expected to have after completing a course or program of study. The faculty members responsible for a course or program get together and decide what overall qualities or abilities a successful student should have after completing a course or program; those determinations become the student learning outcomes. Faculty also assess these outcomes to determine if students are achieving them. These assessments are not necessarily part of the students' grades in the courses.
2. What is a Service Level Outcome?
In every student service area of campus like Counseling, Financial Aid or the Transfer Center, timely and effective outreach to students contributes to student learning. At West, Service Level Outcomes have been developed to ensure that services to students help to provide an environment that contributes to learning. The services we provide are always being assessed to improve quality and that is why you are encouraged to rate the level of services or provide suggestions for program improvement when asked to participate in a survey or campus questionnaire.
3. Do I need to know the learning outcomes for my course? (Will this be on the test?)
The learning outcomes for your course represent the overall goals of the course, in terms of what you should be able to do when it's completed. Knowing these outcomes can give you a good idea as to what your instructors feel is important for you to learn. While the learning outcomes are often too general to give you a sense of which chapter to study for a certain exam, they can help you understand the overall course structure, as well as what your instructor feels are the most important overall things for you to learn. It's recommended that you find out what your course outcomes are, and begin to think a bit about how SLOs might affect your approach to the course.
4. Where are the learning outcomes for my course? Where can I find them?
Your instructor is required to inclulde the learning outcomes for his or her course on the course syllabus. The outcomes for each course (by division) are found at www.wlac.edu//committees/slos/Course-SLOs.aspx. Program learning outcomes are developed by the department that offers the program and are available at www.wlac.edu/committees/slos/Program-SLOs.aspx. A program is a series of courses leading to a particular certificate or degree.
5. How are these assessed? Will this make more work for me?
The instructor decides how to assess each learning outcome, and how often to do that assessment. The instructor may use an assignment that is already part of the course like a set of questions on an exam. In other cases, instructors might come up with a whole separate assignment or activity to assess an outcome. Each course will be different however; any assessments will usually be an integrated part of the course, meaning no additional work for you. You may not even know which part of the course is used as an outcome assessment.
6. Will I have a chance to see the assessment results?
Possibly, but it depends on the goals of the assessment and the methods used to assess the learning outcomes. In some cases, student information like your name is not collected because the instructors want to see if the class as a whole met the outcome, not individual students. In other cases, the analysis of the assessment won't take place until after the course has ended. If you want to see assessment results, you should start by asking the faculty who teach your course. Here's a sample of a student learning outcome assessment used by West faculty that's available for you to view on the West website: www.wlac.edu/committees/slos/Forms-and-Reports.aspx