Student Learning Outcomes Initiative

Southeast Missouri State has initiated a project to develop a system for identifying, developing, implementing, assessing and reporting SLOs for all courses taught at Southeast.   Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes (“SLOs”) is a best practice that supports the basic mission of the university; teaching students. 

What is a Student Learning Outcome?

Student Learning Outcomes , or SLOs, are statements that specify what students will know, be able to do, or be able to demonstrate when they have completed or participated in a course, project, activity or program. Outcomes are usually expressed as knowledge (cognitive) or skills (behavioral) and specify an action by the student that must be observable, measurable and be able to be demonstrated.

Why are SLOs Important?  Why are we Assessing them?

If we consider that student learning is the primary objective for us when we teach then it makes sense that a learning outcome should be occurring.  SLOs are simply evidence of this learning.  There are indirect measures of student learning.  For example, a Student Evaluation of Instruction may include questions about the students' self-perception of their learning.  A direct measure would be evidence of achievement of the actual learning.  In both cases we have evidence that student learning has occurred.

Assessing SLOs gives us this direct evidence.  In itself this is obviously a good thing to do.  Additionally, the Higher Learning Commission requires as part of our regional accreditation that we assess and report SLOs.  Finally, the federal government is now expecting SLOs to be part of our definition of a credit hour, particularly for alternate forms of delivery such as blended, webinar and online courses.

How do we Create and Write SLOs?

SLOs have been around for awhile.  SLO projects similar to what we are undertaking at Southeast have occurred on numerous other college and university campuses.  Many campuses have SLOs posted on the web.  One of the easiest ways to get started is to look what others have done.  On the Writing SLOs page on this web site there are some suggestions on getting started with writing SLOs including examples from many relevant disciplines.  Other information and useful resources on SLOs are on the SLO Resources page.

Where can we get help with Creating and Assessing SLOs?

Contact CSTL and OIT.  The Instructional Designers or Faculty Associate, Dr. Beverly Evans will be happy to help.