Deborah Paulsen, M.F.A.
Stephen Brown, Ph.D
Parvaneh Mohammadian, Ph.D.
Student Guide to Learning Outcomes
A Student Guide to Learning Outcomes: The Basic Idea
Here are some common questions (with answers) about learning outcomes.
What's a Learning Outcome?
Student learning outcomes are general skills, knowledge, or masteries which students are expected to have after completing a course or program of study. The faculty responsible for a course or program get together and decide what overall qualities or abilities a successful student should have after completing a course or program; those become the student learning outcomes. Faculty do assess their outcomes; that is, they find a way to determine if their students are achieving those desired outcomes. However, these assessments are not necessarily part of the students' grades in the courses.
What's an SLO?
SLO stands for Student Learning Outcome.
Do I need to know the learning outcomes for my course? (also known as, Will this be on the test?)
The learning outcomes for your course represent the overall goals of the course, in terms of what you should be able to do when it is completed. Knowing these outcomes can give you a good idea as to what your instructors feel is important for you to learn. While the learning outcomes are often too general to give you a sense of which chapter to study for on an exam, they can help you understand the overall course structure, as well as what your instructor feels are the most important overall things for you to learn. As such, we do recommend finding out what your course outcomes are and thinking a bit about how that might affect your approach to the course.
What are the learning outcomes for my course?
Your instructor is required to print the learning outcomes for his or her course on the course syllabus. The outcomes for each course can be accessed through the LAMC Web page Schedule of Classes Online (SOCO). Program learning outcomes are available from the department which offers the program. A program is a series of courses leading to a certificate or degree.
Will this affect my grade?
The student learning outcomes for a course are the skills or abilities which you are supposed to gain in the course; as such, it is likely that your instructor will be testing for those outcomes as part of your regular class assignments. However, the actual assessment of learning outcomes may not necessarily be part of your grade. In other words—the professor might use a course assignment as part of the assessment. You are still graded on the assignment as usual, but the extra use of that assignment as part of the learning outcomes process is not part of your grade. Faculty assess learning outcomes to improve student learning and to decide how to improve courses and academic programs.
How are these assessed? Is it going to mean more work, or another test/assignment for me?
Probably not. The faculty who teach the course decide on how to assess each learning outcome, and how often to do that assessment. Often, the assessment will use an assignment which is already part of the course, or maybe a set of questions on an exam. In other cases, instructors might come up with a whole separate assignment or activity to assess an outcome. It's really up to your instructor. However, any assessments will usually be an integrated part of the course, and thus not usually any additional work for you. You may not even know which part of the course is used as an outcome assessment.
Can I see the assessment results?
Maybe; it depends on the goals of the assessment and the methods used to assess the learning outcomes. In some cases, student information like your name is not collected because the instructors want to see if the class as a whole met the outcome, not individual students. In other cases, the analysis of the assessment won't take place until after the course has ended. If you want to see assessment results, you should start by asking the faculty who teach your course.
General Education Learning Outcomes - What's this?
Los Angeles Mission College has decided on a set of general education student learning outcomes http://www.lamission.edu/slo/generaleducation.aspx which represent the overall set of qualities a student graduating from LAMC should possess. Beginning in Spring 2012, we will begin assessing how well Mission College students are meeting the general education learning outcomes.
A Quick SLO Glossary
- Student Learning Outcome, a.k.a. SLO: An overall ability, skill, or quality which a successful student should have after completing a course or program
- Assessment: the process by which faculty determine if students in their course or program are achieving the SLO, and what changes might be helpful to improve the course
- Service Area Outcome: A desired outcome of services provided to students, such as Counseling or Library services.
- General Education/Institutional Learning Outcome: An overall quality or ability which students graduating from Los Angeles Mission College should possess.
- Program: A series of courses leading to a degree or certificate
Who to talk to?
If you have more questions about learning outcomes at LAMC, you can speak to your course instructor, your department chair, or the student learning outcomes coordinators Pat Flood and Deborah Paulsen.