Monday, October 5, 2009
California's community college educators are late to embrace the system of Student Learning Outcomes, or "SLOs," as a means of tracking program effectiveness, but pressure from regional accreditation bodies has spurred a shotgun marriage. Here's the way it works: Colleges establish a small set of high level SLOs around a handful of "big themes," such as communication skills, critical thinking, and citizenship. Then every college department creates its own collection of SLOs, which are supposed to be aligned with the "big themes," but that go into a bit more detail for each discipline. Finally, instructors create their own specific SLOs for each course. I will collect resources that I find relating to SLOs in this blog from time to time, beginning with this Web site from Sacramento City College. After setting the SLOs, instructors and department heads need to develop an assessment system for tracking progress in achieving the outcomes. These assessments range from student self-report surveys on how proficient they feel in some core skills to faculty ratings of selected student work at the beginning and end of each course using a rubric with several core skills.