Assessing core student Learning Outcomes

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Assessing CORE Student Learning Outcomes

  • Summer Assessment Institute
  • August, 2005
  • Presented by
  • Jerry Rudmann
  • Coastline Community College

Desired Outcomes of this Session

  • Participants will be able to…
  • Explain why robust SLOs are appropriate for representing Institutional (or “CORE”) learning goals
  • Write a robust SLO statement
  • Create and use a scoring rubric for assessing a robust SLO
  • List and describe several ways to facilitate the assessment of CORE learning outcomes

More specifically: A Student Learning Outcome or “SLO” is…

  • A specific observable, measurable behavior stated in terms of what students should be able to do as a result of instruction.

The Four Levels of Student Learning Outcomes

  • Lesson or unit level
  • Course level
  • Program level
  • College level
  • CORE Goal
  • Students earning the AA degree and/or transferring into upper division coursework at ABC Community College will be able to…
  • Communication
  • Communicate effectively when speaking and writing.
  • Critical Thinking
  • Engage in critical and creative thinking to solve problems and make decisions.
  • Use technology to access, organize, and communicate information.
  • Respect for Cultural Diversity
  • Practice sensitive and respectful treatment of diverse groups and perspectives.
  • Civic Engagement
  • Identify and recognize opportunities to contribute to civic and environmental needs.
  • Aesthetic Responsiveness
  • Evaluate literary, visual, and performing arts using discipline-specific approaches and criteria.

Two General Categories of CORE SLOs

  • Content knowledge – facts, terms, concepts, dates, definitions, etc.
  • Robust outcomes – products of complex behaviors and skills that students take with them and use later (e.g., a paper, a speech, an analysis of the merits and flaws in a persuasive message)

5. The “Robust” Learning Outcome Meets These Criteria…

  • A behavior or skill beyond content knowledge
  • Bloom’s levels 3 to 6
  • Specifies the conditions / context
  • A real life skill
  • Experts agree on importance
  • Standard of excellence
  • Can assess with a rubric
  • Global in scope
  • Student is thinking, acting like a “pro”

Robust Outcomes are Critically Important Products of Learning

Handout – Robust Outcome Rubric

  • The learning outcome statement…
  • No or Unsure
  • (0)
  • Not
  • Quite
  • (1)
  • Clearly
  • YES
  • (2)
  • Points
  • Describes a behavior or skill that is beyond recognition or
  • recitation of content knowledge.
  • Uses action verbs from Bloom’s level 3 or higher* (see
  • Bloom guide below).
  • Specifies the conditions (e.g., given a case study, a set of
  • data, tools, materials, media explanations of behavior).
  • Is a real life skill that students will use beyond the end of the
  • course.
  • Would be considered a high priority learning outcome by
  • most experts in the discipline.
  • Has an explicit or implied standard of performance (e.g., a
  • benchmark for excellence).
  • Is amenable to assessment using a scoring rubric.
  • Is an overarching outcome (course or program) rather than
  • smaller in scope (lesson or unit)
  • Is a skill that represents thinking and/or behaving like the
  • discipline expert (e.g., historian, neurologist, biologist,
  • author)
  • Total Points =

Examples of Robust SLOs Written by College Instructors

  • Course: DGA 166A Dreamweaver
  • Based on customer needs and specifications, create an accessible, professional-looking five-page Website that reflects the nature of the business and the intended audience and that includes text, graphics, multimedia, and interactive elements.

Eng 100 - English Composition

Psychology 1 – Introductory Psychology

  • Given an explanation of behavior taken from the popular media, students will critically evaluate the explanation using the appropriate evaluation criteria (e.g., indications of non-random sampling, experimenter bias, lack of peer review, the confirmation bias, and a correlational research design).

To Review: Robust Outcomes are Critically Important Competencies Meeting the Following Criteria

  • The “robust” learning outcome…
  • Is a behavior or skill beyond recitation
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy level 3 or higher
  • Specifies the conditions
  • Is a real life skill
  • Considered high priority by experts in your unit
  • Has a benchmark of excellence
  • Is amenable to assessment (e.g., by rubric)
  • Is an overarching outcome rather that something minute

Try Writing One

  • A CORE Student Learning Outcome defined:
  • Knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes a student has attained upon transfer and/or graduation from your institution.
  • Try writing a robust outcome

Share Draft Robust Outcomes


  • Assessment of Content Knowledge
  • Objective/multiple-choice
  • Fill in the blank
  • Matching
  • Short answer essay
  • Assessment of Robust SLOs
  • Scoring rubric

Embedded Assessment

  • A clever way to do gather SLO evidence
  • Minimal impact on current practices
  • No problem with student motivation

Introduction to the Rubric

  • Scoring rubrics are ideally suited for assessing robust learning outcomes.

Let’s Develop an Assessment Rubric for a Resume

  • Factor
  • Needs
  • Improvement
  • 0 points
  • Satisfactory
  • 1 point
  • Excellent
  • 2 points
  • Lists educational background

Chocolate Chip Cookie Rubric

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Rubric

A Rubric is Good!

  • Facilitates staff dialogue regarding satisfactory performance.
  • Creates a more objective assessment.
  • Makes expectation explicit to the student.
  • Encourages metacognitive skill of self-monitoring own learning.
  • Facilitates scoring and reporting of data.

Design Your Own Rubric

  • Use the worksheet in your packet to design a scoring rubric for one of your new robust SLOs

Brainstorm – Strategies for Moving Forward in Assessing CORE SLOs

Assessment of CORE SLOs – Strategies for Moving Forward

  • Look for existing sources of data
  • Multiple measures – triangulation
  • Embedded assessment
  • Map CORE SLOS to courses, programs, services
  • Assessing a sample versus population
  • Theme years
  • Technology tools
  • Commercial instruments
  • Qualitative assessment (exit surveys, interviews, focus groups)
  • Create an implementation plan
  • Make SLO assessment report part of an annual Institutional Effectiveness Report (?)

The Implementation Plan

    • Who, how, where and when will your college gather CORE SLO assessment data?
    • Who will review this assessment data?
    • Who will write and file a SLO report?
  • Email:
  • Work phone: 714-241-6338

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