Departmental SLO Process

S45 study session

Updated January 19, 2016

The Earth Sciences Department SLO process exists at the Department and Course level. We developed an SLO process, because we want our programs to be as effective as possible (the classes and other services we provide) and our students to feel good about their experiences in our department.

Assessment Coordinators Spring 2016

GEOGRAPHY Coordinators:

  • Geography 1, 1L, 4, 7 -- Darrel Hess
  • Geography 110, 111, 112, GIS Certificate -- Katryn Wiese and Ian Duncan
  • Geography 41 -- Kirstie Stramler

GEOLOGY Coordinators:

  • Geology 10/0L -- Chris Lewis
  • Geology 18, 21 series, 91 -- Katryn Wiese
  • Geology 11, 30, 30L -- Chris Lewis 
  • Geology Major, Earth Science Major -- Chris Lewis

OCEANOGRAPHY Coordinators:

  • Ocan 1 + Oceanography Major -- Katryn Wiese
  • Ocan 1L -- Katryn Wiese and Kirstie Stramler

PALEONTOLOGY Coordinator: Pale 1 -- Joyce Lucas-Clark

What is our process?

  1. Develop missions, resource lists, student learning outcomes, and assessment techniques for:
    a. The Department as a whole, incorporating each of our programs (Geography, Geology, Oceanography, Paleontology, GIS)
    b. Each of our courses
    c. Each of our certificates and majors
  2. Implement a process for continual review of our mission statement and student learning outcomes (refining them and changing them to meet modern and updated understanding of the topics we teach as well as the needs of the community).
  3. Use our assessment methods to gather data on and continually review our effectiveness at achieving our mission and goals. Where we fall short, develop new services, ideas, teaching techniques etc. to better achieve our goals.
  4. Continually review our assessment techniques to ensure we are getting the data we want. Where opportunities exist, creatively develop and experiment with new assessment techniques, testing them until we find ones that are most useful for our goals.
  5. Assess each SLO at least once every 3 years.

Implementation and who's responsible?

  1. Our SLO process -- including department mission and SLOs -- is available online through our the Department website and is maintained and updated yearly based on faculty feedback.
  2. We have assigned a Course Manager for each course. The Course Manager works with all the faculty who teach a particular course to regularly (each semester) assess the effectiveness of a variety of the student learning outcomes in the class and brainstorm ways to improve as necessary. The Course Manager is also in charge of maintaining the Course Outline and any multi-section assessment tools, such as end-of-semester SLO exams if those are used. This Course Manager is in charge of working with the teaching faculty of that course to develop these methods and document results. The Course Manager is the facilitator and the one ultimately responsible, but all teaching faculty in the course are involved in the conversations and feedback and materials development. Discussions happen among these faculty at least once each semester to review SLO assessments and make plans for the next semester based on the discussions. Note: Instructors of solo-section classes are the defacto Course Managers in our department and conduct the SLO assessments as they see fit, collaborating with other colleagues where value can be added.
  3. Course Managers of CCSF-GE-Area courses also maintain mappings of the SLOs to the GE Outcomes for the appropriate area and conduct dialogs among the faculty of those courses to assess these connections.
  4. Program SLOs are maintained and managed by Program Managers, who are in charge of the assessment protocols and facilitating department dialog.
  5. We get yearly feedback from department faculty on this entire process through college-wide assessment reporting and department meetings. Sample feedback includes:
    1. Department program and resource needs and visions for future upgrades (i.e. feedback to Department Chair on what changes might make faculty better able to do their jobs). This feedback is reviewed by the Department Chair to help develop new programs and to create the yearly Department Review documents and plans.
    2. Faculty SLO assessments, which includes: methods faculty members are using to assess SLOs, changes each faculty member has made to classes based on SLO feedback, what results they’ve observed, what changes they’d like to make in the future, and what results they hope to achieve through these changes.


We do not believe that a course’s learning objectives are achieved solely through class time. In addition, we expect students to take advantage of the following RESOURCES provided specifically to improve their learning:


Our lecture courses use a variety of assessment techniques for SLOs, including:

  1. In-class responses to discussion questions (some instructors use iClicker).
  2. Quiz or exam questions linked to specific SLOs. (Many of our courses use similar questions from one semester to the next to evaluate the success for key learning outcomes.)
  3. Class assignments linked to specific SLOs and with rubrics for evaluating success.
  4. Instructor- and section-specific evaluation forms for students to complete and instructors to review after the end of the semester.
  5. Some of our courses use an end-of-semester SLO exam (for courses with multiple sections and instructors). (See example.)
    1. All course instructors weigh in initially on format of exam and questions.
    2. All course instructors give exam at same time in the semester (such as after the last class, but before the final exam).
    3. Some of these exams are anonymous. Other classes record student name, telling students that their grades will not hurt them, but can be used to help them if they end up on the boundary between two grades (so a form of extra credit on the final exam IF they perform well).
    4. Data and graphs produced sorted by section and question #. (See example.)
    5. Results reviewed among all instructors (at end of semester and during department meetings at start of following semester).
    6. Exam questions and format revised as necessary.
    7. Additional resources and teaching techniques discussed to deal with tough topics.
    8. Process produces thoughtful discussions on actual goals of the course, and how each instructor has varied methodology and content details.


Our lab courses use a variety of assessment techniques for SLOs, including:

  1. In-class weekly lab work (all self-driven and hands on).
  2. Written exams that measure the student’s ability to achieve the course SLOs. These exams are the same from one semester to the next, regardless of instructor (usually). These exams provide a good sampling of how information is being perceived and achieved from one semester/class to the next. All learning outcomes are tested on these exams, and results are reviewed for improvements the following semester.
  3. Instructor- and section-specific evaluation forms for students to complete and instructors to review after the end of the semester (mostly about their experience).
  4. Regular discussions and coordinations among faculty who teach the same lab. (During semester and at start of each semester at department meeting)


Our work experience courses assess SLOs through a combination of student self-evaluation and internship supervisor evaluation. A project plan starts the semester with all student goals listed. At mid and end of semester, students and supervisors both rate the student on their completion of these tasks.


Our programs use a variety of assessment techniques for SLOs, including

  1. Combined course assessments for course SLOs that map to a program-level SLO (through CurricUNET)
  2. Alumni events (including newsletter submissions)
  3. Regular discussions and coordinations among faculty who work with these students. (During semester and at start of each semester at department meeting)


  1. Online college-wide assessment reports provide a mechanism through which instructors review changes and updates they’ve made (and results) as well as ones they plan to make and expected results. These forms are also used for instructors to get feedback on issues with which they need help and to provide feedback on the overall direction and needs of the department. These form results are used for program review and planning.
  2. Each May, we review our year's highlights in terms of classes, students, and faculty accomplishments, and combine them into a newsletter, available on our Newsletter website.
  3. We discuss the SLO process and progress at our department meetings each semester.
  4. Each program has periodic meetings throughout the year, and SLOs are discussed at each of these (for example, GIS, Oceanography, etc.)
  5. Department faculty regularly discuss SLOs and general class improvements through shared email conversations.
  6. The department holds yearly short workshops on a variety of topics designed to improve our classes, such as reaching D & F students and using iClickers to increase participation. These workshops and related materials are shared through our webpages on Teaching Resources.
  7. DATA for SLOs and discussion notes are summarized in annual program reviews and updated on our assessment website.