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

Writing Your Own SLOs

Getting started:  Faculty have reported that the hardest aspect of writing SLOs is simply getting something on paper. That time is now. Plan to brainstorm and draft SLOs right now. There are resources to the right for help with language, and examples of some profession standards and criteria that have been articulated but begin with your own knowledge and goals for the course or program.

1. REALIZE –you have been doing this all along, operating from intuitive and professional experience; the task is to communicate and articulate your goals, outcomes, and criteria.

2. Select your favorite course or program. Take the online Angelo and Cross Teaching Inventory Test  to see if your teaching correlates with what you value:

3. Now that you have considered your values and practices think about the course or program dynamics. The box below can be downloaded as a worksheet by clicking here.

Instructional Course & Programs Outcomes

Student Services Programs

Name a specific course or program

Name a specific program or service (e.g. counseling, financial aid, DSPS, Admissions and Records, International Studies, etc.)


Are there any prerequisites for this course?

This program must interface with what other key areas?

Does this course serve as a prerequisite for any other courses?


Course Purpose

Purpose, Mission, or Function that best describes this programs role in student learning:


4. As the expert in this discipline and course, begin by thinking about the 5-7 most important things a student should leave your class being able to DO. 5-7 may not seem like enough, you may have 20-50 objectives for a course - but these represent the 5-7 things you will assess - most people would not want to assess and make public 20-50 different objectives.

5. Spend 15 minutes brainstorming, write down words that express knowledge, skills, or values that integrate the most important aspects of your class.

BRAINSTORM: In the boxes below briefly list words or descriptions  of attitudes, skills, or knowledge that you would like your students to know or do as a result of this course or student services program.


Attitudes or values developed as a result of this course




Skills or performance ability as a result of this course




Knowledge and concepts they will have as a result of this course




6. Use active verbs and the domain charts to craft sentences that are clear and assessable (measurable).

7. Use the checklist to compare your SLOs to some criteria.

8. Share these draft SLOs with other faculty to sharpen the focus.

9. Compare the SLO drafts with:


course outlines


core concepts articulated by professional organizations


external expectations such as board requirements or standards


articulation and prerequisite agreements


the list of SCANS skills linked in the resource section

Complete this section

Resources and Links



Worksheet to write SLOs



Bloom's Taxonomy Diagram

Bloom's Taxonomy


Student Services Samples and Information

Sample Standards from Professional Groups

ABET - Engineering

APA - Psychology - What majors should know

ASM - Microbiology

Business Education Standards

Higher Education Library Standards

NLNAC- Nursing Standards
California Nursing Competencies


Commission on Assessment of Student Development

Student Services Assessment

NASPA National Association of Student Personnel Directors (requires membership)

Santa Ana College

RP Student Services Assessment Guide

CSU Student Learning Outcomes Web site

Distance Learning Assessment

Assessing Student Performance in Distance Learning Environments

Cognitive Domain

Psychomotor Domain

Affective Domain

SLO Checklist (html)

Word Document for Printing SLO Checklist

SCANS skills

Sample SCANS outcomes for General Education courses on pages 13 &14


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