Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

Section 1

Section 2
 Background and Rationale for Assessment

Section 3
 Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
Defining SLOs
Defining Terms
Objectives & SLOs
Sample SLOs
SLOs & Learning Domains
Writing SLOs
Evaluate the section

Section 4

Assessment Tools and Data

Section 5
Course Assessment

Section 6
Program Assessment


Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training on Campus


Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website

SLOs and the Learning Domains

Bloom (1948) developed classifications of intellectual behavior and learning in order to identify and measure progressively sophisticated learning. College faculty are hired because of their discipline expertise and are sometimes unfamiliar with important pedagogical theories that contribute to effective learning. Bloom's taxonomy is especially important in higher education where outcomes need to address the student ability to use information, not just recall and regurgitate concepts. Lower levels of learning are easier to assess but do not adequately display what the student can DO with the knowledge. Use the link at the right to refresh your understanding of Bloom's Taxonomy and to see the flow chart of increasing levels of complex learning.

However, learning is not a purely cognitive function; learning occurs differently when it entails performing a skill or re-evaluating behavior. Three domains of learning are recognized:

The cognitive domain (Bloom’s Taxonomy, 1956) defines knowledge classification.

The psychomotor domain (Gronlund, 1970; Harrow, 1972; Simpson, 1972) defines physical skills or tasks classification.

The affective domain (Krathwhol, Bloom, and Masia, 1964) defines behaviors that correspond to attitudes and values.

Student learning outcomes should be appropriate to the course this often means including relevant outcomes from each domain. Affective outcomes tend to be the hardest to articulate initially but often represent the outcomes most closely related to deeper thinking and life-long learning.

The essence of student learning outcomes lies in focusing on the results you want from your students rather than on what you will cover in the course.  Begin to ask yourself how you will know when you have accomplished those outcomes.

Proceed to Writing Your Own SLOs.

Resources and Links

Bloom's Taxonomy

Diagram of Bloom's Taxonomy

Cognitive Domain

Psychomotor Domain

Affective Domain

DRAFT SLOs from Bakersfield College

ART - Figure Drawing

Academic Development - Word Processing for Students with Disabilities

English 2 Advanced Composition and Critical Thinking

Eng B34 -Introduction to Library Research


Pediatric Nursing


Janet Fulks
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges (2004), Bakersfield College