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Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) and Assessment. Why?. As part of the SACS reaffirmation process, we must demonstrate that all courses and programs have defined student learning outcomes (SLO), assessment of SLO, and evidence of using assessment results to improve programs.

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Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) and Assessment


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    1. Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) and Assessment

    2. Why? As part of the SACS reaffirmation process, we must demonstrate that all courses and programs have defined student learning outcomes (SLO), assessment of SLO, and evidence of using assessment results to improve programs. The SLO and mode of assessment must be included within each syllabus of every section, for every course offered.

    3. What are Student Learning Outcomes? • During reaffirmation, SACS will consider whether courses are “results-oriented” • SLO have three distinguishing characteristics: • observable • measurable • achievable in one semester • The SLO must convey to the student the information they will learn/apply during the semester.

    4. What SLO are not • The following are NOT examples of SLO: • What an institution does (e.g. increased enrollment, maintains a balanced budget) • What an instructor does (e.g. covers the history of the Civil War) • Indicators of student learning (e.g. grades, degrees) • Benefits/consequences of student learning (e.g. job placement, transfer, student satisfaction)

    5. How? • SLO = Action verb + topic + standard of success • Most often, SLOs are activities that students are already doing for grades; you may just need to re-word course objectives and define assessment methods to be able to measure them • SLOs should consist of action verbs that define a level of learning within that particular outcome (see http://access.nku.edu/oca/slo/bloom.htm) • Include intended SLOs inall sections’ syllabi

    6. Course objectives v. Course SLO’s • Course objectives are: • Broad or global in scope • Concise – more than two, less than ten • Collective – sets of learning goals with commonalities • Student Learning Outcomes are: • Narrow and specific in scope • Profuse – billions of possibilities • Discrete or individual learning goals

    7. When? • SACS requires a four semester history of syllabi showing SLOs • Every faculty member must electronically submit via their departmental curriculum committee a syllabus for each class they are teaching, for each of the following semesters: • Fall 2006 • Spring 2007 • Fall 2007, and • Spring 2008

    8. General Education Courses • SLOs approved during the recertification of general education courses in 2001 must be utilized • All general education courses must include approved SLOs in syllabi for each section • Assessment must be linked to SLO’s

    9. SLO (see examples on following slides) Defined assessment methods that are directly linked to the SLOs and used to evaluate student achievement of the SLO The content and goals of the course should be consistent with the departmental mission Syllabus Content Required by SACS

    10. Components of a Written Course SLO • Context that describes the conditions for demonstration of learning • Action verb that states what a successful student will be able to do • Specific topic or unit of content derived from the course objective • Success standard that defines achievement of the learning goal • Method of assessment that provides evidence of achievement of the learning goal

    11. Sample SLO GLY 155 (currently defined as objectives) Upon completion of this course, the students are expected to have the following expertise: • An understanding of the concepts of geology and the applicability of these concepts to the geologic setting of this area • An appreciation of the concept of geologic time and how the local geology reflects the geologic history of this of the region. • A knowledge of the way that geologic conditions and geologic processes have influenced social and economic development of this area • Improved observational abilities with respect to appreciation of the local geologic environment.

    12. Sample SLO CMGT 101 (currently defined as objectives) At the conclusion of CMGT 101, each student will be able to: • Interpret and comprehend construction blueprints for residential, commercial, and highway construction projects. • Communicate an understanding of construction systems by demonstrating the ability to correctly sketch and draw construction systems and components. • Locate and apply industry standard reference materials to determine appropriate materials and installation methods. • Explain the permit procedures including building and zoning code requirements. • List the responsibility of and the relationship between the owners, architects, engineers, construction managers, contractors, and specialty contractors. • List the advantages and disadvantages of the different project delivery systems.

    13. Sample SLO PSY 360 (currently defined as objectives) • To identify sites of drug action in the brain (e.g., neurotransmitters, receptors, transporters, enzymes). • To recognize the clinical effects and side effects of antianxiety, antidepressant, and antipsychotic drugs. • To better understand the biological basis of drug abuse and addiction. • To appreciate how biological changes produced by drugs of abuse relate to behavioral responses to drugs and to drug-seeking behavior • Prepare individuals to better understand and appraise current primary literature in the field of psychopharmacology.

    14. Sample SLO PAD 626 (Graduate Research Methods/Program Evaluation course) • Increase knowledge of evaluation rationale, theories, concepts and processes; • Learn and practice techniques related to evaluation logic, design, data collection and analysis; • Demonstrate insight to key issues and challenges associated with nonprofit program evaluation • Enhance ability to analyze evaluation settings and to communicate findings effectively – both in written papers and in oral presentations

    15. After I’ve defined my SLO, what else does SACS want? 3.3.1 The institution identifies expected outcomes for its educational programs and its administrative and educational support services; assesses whether it achieves these outcomes; and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of those results. 3.4.1 The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded (a) is approved by the faculty and the administration, and (b) establishes and evaluates program and learning outcomes.

    16. Assessment? “A systematic process of looking at student achievement within and across courses by gathering, interpreting and using information about student learning for educational improvement.” American Association of Higher Education Bulletin

    17. Five Themes of Assessment • Assessment should focus on improving student learning; • The focus of assessment should not be limited to the classroom, but include the wide range of processes that influence learning; • Assessment is a process embedded within larger systems; • Assessment should focus collective attention and create linkages and enhance coherence within and across the curriculum; and • Tension between assessment for improvement and assessment for accountability must be managed.

    18. Why aren’t grades enough? • Grading practices are not standardized • Need for different ways of structuring program assessment • Grades reflect several variables other than course content and mastery • Objectives and outcomes differ across departments and programs • Good assessment incorporates multiple ways of measuring goal achievement

    19. How? • Connect SLO to exams and assignments to measure performance by: • Creating assessment instruments that incorporate assignments, presentations, projects essays, performances and exams you are already using • Utilizing rubrics - see rubric example slide 18 • Reporting and evaluating assessment instruments - see rubric example slide 19 • Defining assessment plan statements – see example slide 20 • Close the loop by: • Comparing data across semesters to find strengths/weaknesses in different SLO areas - see example slide 21

    20. Sample Assessment Rubric (written communication skills)

    21. Report your Assessment Findings* • Assessment Criteria/Performance Standards/Expected Result(s): • i.e.: Less than 30% of students will answer each embedded question correctly on the pretest, whereas 80% or more will answer each embedded question correctly on the final exam • Statement of Actual Results: • i.e.: Expected results were met • Problems Encountered: • (if minimum standards were not met) • Actions Taken/Recommendations for Further Action: • i.e. curricular changes or improvements *Complete this for each assessment criteria statement.

    22. Define your Assessment Plan Statement (i.e. SOC 201) • Intended Outcome #1 • i.e. Students enrolled in sophomore SOC will demonstrate an understanding of key sociological concepts and principles. • Assessment Measures, Techniques and Target Courses/Activities • i.e. SOC 201 students will complete a pretest and final examination, in which questions related to key sociological concepts and principles are embedded. Faculty will evaluate student performance across all sections. • Assessment Criteria/Expected Results • i.e. Less than 30% of students will answer each embedded question correctly on the pretest, whereas 80% will answer correctly on the final exam.

    23. Close the loop • Ask four questions: • What do you expect your students to know at the beginning of the semester? • What do you expect your students to have learned by the end of the semester? • Did the students meet your expectations? • What can be done to change the course so that students can better meet/exceed your expectations next semester?

    24. What if you do not have assessable goals? • Examine the set of required courses. • Ask, “What have we been trying to teach?” (SLO) • Ask, “What should students know before they enter the curriculum in order to succeed?’ (Entrance Criteria) • Ask, “What should students know when they complete the curriculum in order to graduate?” (Exit Criteria) • Ask, “At what points in the curriculum are students doing well or having difficulty?” (Midpoint Criteria) • Ask, “Are our alumni successful in the field?” (Post Completion Criteria) Adapted from NCTLA

    25. 9 Best Practices for Assessing Student Learning • The assessment of student learning begins with educational values. • Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time. • Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes. • Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes. • Assessment works best when it is ongoing not episodic. • Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved. • Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about. • Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change. • Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.

    26. Resources • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Principles of Accreditation. Approved by the College Delegate Assembly, 2001. http://www.sacscoc.org • Kelley, L.H. (Ed.D) Assessment and Planning Resources; link found at http://www.angelfire.com/ia/kelley/ , 2006. • Bloom, B. S. (Ed.) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1956. • Angelo, T.A. AAHE Bulletin. April 1995, p.11. • Angelo, T.A. AAHE Bulletin. November 1995, p.7. • Alexander W. Astin; Trudy W. Banta; K. Patricia Cross; Elaine El-Khawas; Peter T. Ewell; Pat Hutchings; Theodore J. Marchese; Kay M. McClenney; Marcia Mentkowski; Margaret A. Miller; E. Thomas Moran; Barbara D. Wright.This document was developed under the auspices of the AAHE Assessment Forum with support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education with additional support for publication and dissemination from the Exxon Education Foundation. Copies may be made without restriction.