Developing Program SLOs
Program Student Learning Outcomes (disciplines, majors, and
certificates) are listed in the course
catalog if they are instructional programs. For service programs,
they are listed on department assessment pages. Note: for courses and
instructional programs, these outcomes are focussed on student
learning (SLOs or student-learning outcomes).
Title 5 defines a program as “an organized sequence of courses leading to a defined objective, a degree, a certificate, a diploma, a license, or transfer to another institution of higher education.”
All departments at City College of San Francisco have at least one program. Each certificate or major in a department constitutes a program. Departments may also have disciplines that do not have certificates or majors; those should be considered programs as well. Some departments may wish to expand a particular discipline into several programs (e.g., remedial, degree-applicable, and transfer-level Mathematics). Be sure to consider the following:
- Are there certain pathways that students take to achieve a
particular goal? Certificate and degree programs are one type of
“student pathway”, but you may have others – remedial to
degree-applicable coursework; basic skills to academic and CTE
- Programs are often organized by academic disciplines and
departments, but not always
- Many departments may have multiple programs – the number will
vary by the number of degrees and certificates and also by student
pathways through the department’s offerings
- Your department may have courses that are part of another department’s program
When trying to write a program SLO, it is often helpful to create a
mission statement for the program.
Program mission statements may or may not be different from the
mission statement for your department. A department with a single
program may have the same mission statement for department and
program, while a department with multiple programs will likely have a
broader department mission statement and more specific program mission
A mission statement will often begin with the program in question, then make a statement about what that program does or provides, and to whom or for whom it is provided.
You also might ask yourself questions:
- What will a student who completes this program be able to do?
- What concepts or skills run throughout all (or many) of your program’s courses?
- What skills or knowledge will students who complete the program have?
- What will students gain from completing this program?
Some programs may only need one or two SLOs
- Some programs consist of courses that all develop a single
skill through various topics (for example, literary analysis is a
single skill developed through practice with multiple literary
traditions and genres)
- Some programs have a capstone course that ties together elements from all of the other courses – in this case, the capstone course SLO(s) can also be the program SLO(s) (for example, a paralegal studies capstone course that integrates concepts from previous courses and provides students the opportunity to practice them in a workplace setting)
Other programs may need several SLOs
- Some programs’ courses may develop two or more “strands” of
knowledge or skills within the program (for example, a psychology
program may include courses that fall into biological and social
psychology or a modern language program may have goals in both
linguistic and cultural competence)
- Some programs
may have a split focus between content knowledge or theory and the
application of that knowledge (for example, a science program that
has lecture and lab components or a CTE program that focuses on both
content area and workplace (or “soft”) skills)
- Some programs have external standards that course and program SLOs must align with regardless of the number (i.e. Culinary Arts is accredited by the American Culinary Federation).
Writing program SLOs is very similar to writing course-level SLOs.
Keep the SLOs focused on the students (what will the student be able
to do?) as opposed to the teacher (what will be taught?)
- Use critical thinking verbs appropriate to the level of the
- Avoid verbs that are not readily observable or assessable (such as “understand” or “know” or “feel”)
Make sure that the program SLO is something that is readily observable and assessable – in other words, build in assessment from the beginning. Don’t create a program SLO that you can’t envision a way to observe or evaluate or that requires data that you won’t be able to access.