How to write an SLO

The act of assessing SLOs is the formalization of the thought processes that occur to all faculty engaged in teaching; how do I know, unequivocally, that my students understood the concept? There is no need to reinvent the wheel; it may help to work backwards. What instruction or coursework are you already giving students that capture the important concepts, skills, or abilities of the course?

When engaging in dialogue about SLOs, the following five attributes are essential to ensure the SLO will yield actionable information allowing for improvement:

  • Alignment: Course-level SLOs must be aligned to department goals. Department goals are the educational outcomes departments are actively attempting to achieve. Additionally, goals are not to be confused with activities or tasks; goals are the outcomes you would like to achieve as a result of performing a task or activity. Alignment ensures the annual planning efforts of departments are supported by evidence generated through the SLO assessment process.
  • Central: Outcomes must be central to your course, program, or institutional unit. This will ensure the greatest amount of buy-in from various individuals and thus, have the best chance of being completed. This will enable the widest impact on student learning, student success, or client experience. With course-level SLOs, how do they match with the department goals?
  • Feasible: Look at your resources (human, time, technological, etc.) and determine whether the outcome and its assessment is feasible. Is it likely that the process could be accomplished or not.
  • Meaningful: How important is the outcome to the course, program, or institutional unit? It is recommended that you select something that your group is curious about, something that will make a positive impact for your students or clients, and something you will be interested in starting and completing.
  • Measurable: SLOs must be measurable to yield actionable data. To help ensure the SLO is measurable, it may be helpful to refer to the actions verbs within Bloom's Taxonomy.

More often than not, Measureable Objectives (MOs) at Mt. SAC are written and framed identically to SLOs. If this is the case, MOs can be used as SLOs.

For more information

Consult this guide on outcomes and assessment tools.