Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education

   Section 1

Section 2
 Background and Rationale for Assessment

Section 3
 Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Section 4
Assessment Tools and Data

Section 5
Course Assessment

Section 6
Program Assessment
Setting the Stage
Defining Programs
Program SLOs
General Education Programs
Program Assessment Tools
Homegrown Program Assessment Tools
Program/Course Matrix
Program Review and Program Assessment
Sample Program Assessment Reports


Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training on Campus


Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website


Writing Program SLOs

Articulating the program goals, and coordinating the appropriate course SLOs, are important foundations in finalizing draft program SLOs. It is also important to consider external requirements or expectations after a program or course of study. This would include an analysis of: 1) the community or employer expectations, 2) professional standards and expectations, 3) alignment between course, program, and institutional outcomes, 4) student expectations and needs, and transfer institution expectations.

Program SLOs

Community  expectations

Program vision, mission, and goals

Parent institution mission vision and goals

Student needs and goals

Related professional expectations

The goal is to explicitly state overarching outcomes that represent skills, knowledge, and abilities the students attain as a result of the program of study. This may include activities beyond course work. Once again the SLO checklist should be useful.


Instructional Programs

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:


Is the General Education Program assessed as an institutional assessment or as a multi-disciplinary program? It depends upon the campus culture and organization.

Regardless of the organization, WASC requirements for General Education (GE) Programs are very explicit and it is important to review the implications of these standards

The next portion of this section involves GE assessment, if you are more interested in disciplinary programs, do not use the internal links within the GE page, simply move ahead to general program assessment.

Proceed to General Education Program Assessment

Resources and Links


There are several examples of community college practices at The RP Center for Student Success Look at the way Santa Ana College worked GE SLOs through the nursing program and into individual courses.

Assessment:Clear and Simple

Nichols & Nichols (1995) The Departmental Guide and Record Book for Student Learning Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness









SLO checklist


Word Document for Printing SLO Checklist




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