SLO Handbook

The SLO Assessment Mandate

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC or ACCJC, WASC), requires student learning outcomes assessment as part of the accrediting process.

ACCJC specifically requires colleges to reach "Sustainable Continuous Quality Improvement" by achieving these goals:

  1. Student learning outcomes and assessment are ongoing, systematic and used for continuous quality improvement.
  2. Dialogue about student learning is ongoing, pervasive and robust.
  3. Evaluation of student learning outcomes processes.
  4. Evaluation and fine-tuning of organizational structures to support student learning is ongoing.
  5. Student learning improvement is a visible priority in all practices and structures across the college.
  6. Learning outcomes are specifically linked to program reviews.

Definition of Outcomes

There are three kinds of outcomes at CCSF: Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), Administrative Unit Outcomes (AUOs), and Student Service Outcomes (SSOs)

SLOs exist at multiple levels, generally at different levels of detail. SLOs are learning outcomes that we expect students to receive after they have completed a class, program, degree, or path of study at City College.

Although the initial impetus for assessment began with SLOs, all areas of the college, including services, can benefit from setting outcomes they want achieved by their work (outcomes that those they serve will achieve). Thus outcomes assessment (rather than just SLO assessment) is the language we use to describe all levels of our efforts across the college.

Outcomes are developed and assessments take place for the following areas:

  • Student Learning Outcomes (for courses, instructional programs, counseling, and workshops). Example: after a students have completed this workshop, they will be able to identify appropriate and relevant scholarship opportunities.
  • Student Service Outcomes (for additional services provided to students such as transcript procurement, registration, and financial aid). Examples: students can easily access transcripts and receive them in a timely manner.
  • Admininstrative Unit Outcomes (for services provided to faculty, staff, vendors, external organizations, etc. to produce an environment of learning for our students)

SLOs, further defined

SLOs are measurable cognitive, psychomotor, or affective skills or knowledge acquired by students as part of the overarching goals of a course, program, or counseling unit.

Courses, instructional programs, and counseling programs have SLOs. Some course SLOs should be aligned with the program SLOs to which the course belongs. Some course SLOs will be aligned with a degree or certificate program, some with an institutional-level program (like General Education), while still others may belong to both a degree or certificate and also an institutional-level program. Note: some course-level SLOs will be required for transfer agreements and articulation. It is not necessary for every course SLO to fit every course use.

For more information on assessing SSOs and AUOs, please refer to the handbook chapter covering these topics. The rest of the handbook is focussed on SLOs.

Benefits of the Outcomes Assessment Process

All people involved in higher education care about the results of the instruction they provide to students. The WASC standard formalizes this concern into a concrete process. It asks faculty, department chairs, and administrators to document the ways in which they are assessing the results of student learning and then use that knowledge to improve the instructional process. 

Responsibility for the Process

Using the assessment of learning outcomes to improve teaching and learning is a joint responsibility of faculty, administrators, and staff. All have a role to play. The Student Learning Outcomes Committee is charged with facilitating the process of developing and assessing SLOs and providing information and support to academic and non-instructional departments as they work to meet the timetable established by the College and WASC.

At the course, program, and student service level, departments are responsible for identifying student learning outcomes, assessing the results, and making decisions about what actions to take once the results have been analyzed. Departments should decide if the best way to assess outcomes is through shared assessment tools or coordination of different assessment tools. Individual faculty members have a professional responsibility to contribute to the overall SLO efforts of the department.

Departments are aided in this process through two channels: the course outline approval process in Curriculum Committee and Program Review. When a proposal for a new course or program or for modification of an existing course or program comes before the Curriculum Committee, members will assist faculty in reviewing the SLOs and the proposed assessment tools. During Program Review, departments will document summarize the highlights of changesthe results of SLO assessments and show in direction the department has taken in response to SLO assessment processes within their departmenthow improvements are being made in teaching and learning throughout the department as a result of these assessments.

All departments and their faculty are responsible for maintaining documentation of the data they have collected showing the results of the outcomes, and they will describe the changes called for by their analysis of the data.

Administrators are responsible for supporting faculty and departments in their assessment efforts and ensuring compliance with accreditation expectations. This responsibility includes ensuring opportunities exist for faculty and departments to receive training in the development and assessment of student learning outcomes; creating structures where the results of assessment can be reported; and for fostering institutional dialogue.