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Guidelines for Establishing Student Learning Outcomes

By The Editorial Team

An educating facility, whether it be a public school system or a college of higher learning, should always develop clear and concise outcome statements that define what is expected of students in the way of attitudes, skills and competencies.

Normally, student learning outcome (SLO) statements are designed to specifically address students at institutions of secondary and higher learning to help form the habits of the mind and prepare them to succeed in their chosen discipline. The student learning outcome statement should be transparent for all students to easily have access to and understand. Transparent learning outcome statements should include:

  • Making it specific to the program level or institution;
  • Include clear expressions that are understandable by anyone;
  • Linked to a website and prominently posted for viewing;
  • Updated to reflect changes within the learning institution;

Learning facilities and institutions of education should remain constantly informative to its students concerning the outcome statement that is adopted by the college or university. It is also important to relay all expectations and policies concerning assessment. Successful policies and expectations are usually found on a learning website’s homepage or in the college or university handbook.

Establishing learning outcomes

There are basic considerations to follow in establishing or revising a student learning outcomes statement. Beginning with basic questions to help ease the process. These considerations should include:

  • The most important things a student should achieve or gain while in the field of study;
  • What knowledge, capabilities or qualities the facility will strive to foster within the students;
  • Determine the most important information a student will take with them from their study;
  • Determine how the facility will change the way students view themselves;
  • Understand what the facility will contribute to a student’s well being;
  • How the facility will change how students view the world in general;
  • Determine how what is taught at the facility will contribute to society;
  • Decide core values, skills and knowledge and how they are related to the courses of study;
  • Develop a clear path to knowing to what extent students have learned the chosen field of study;
  • Know how to use the information about student learning to enhance other student programs of learning.

Once a directive is set and SLO observable measurable practices are in place, the institution should monitor or assess these practices for continued development and improvement.

Developing good practice assessment

As an assessment practitioner, some educators may have already developed a foundation of assessment that clearly is successful. For institutions just implementing learning outcome measures, the following points provide a basic guideline for success.

  • Make sure the goals or learning outcomes are tied to the overall goals of the program;
  • Always link the learning outcomes to goals and a broad mission that is relevant to the school or college;
  • Map the courses, assignments and experiences that students should have the opportunity to engage with;
  • Develop a clear method of assessing whether students have met the outcomes in the curriculum;
  • Always analyze the results for future improvements to the program or outcome statement;
  • Communicate the results of any assessments to a full faculty for input;
  • Use the results as a map for a better institution.

Defining these outcomes and objectives will provide a meaningful way to measure the success of a facility of higher learning. Constantly looking for ways to improve the course itself or program goals will keep the facility in tune to what students want from a modern-day education. A transparent student learning outcome statement with SLO observable measurable guidelines will provide a clear direction for education.

Once these points are put into practice, a college or university will culminate the data to continually improve curriculum, programs and the institution itself. Constant assessment is what leads to the knowledge of success or failure within a facility. Knowing where the campus has come from and what has been a success in the past will determine the direction of its future.

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