What is an SLO?

A Student Learning Outcome (SLO) is a succinct statement of the skills, competencies, and ideas students should be able to articulate, put into action or utilize after the completion of a course. SLOs are scored through student assessments and the student performance is improved through a program improvement process that incorporates multiple data points.

Accreditation agencies introduced Student Learning Outcomes at the turn of the last century as a way to bridge internal academic practices and external expectations for clear information about what students and graduates know and can do. Assessment of well written SLOs provides: 

  • a statement of the learning opportunities of a given course or program 
  • data on how to improve instructional programs 
  • the transferable skills, knowledge, and attitudes of a student 

Why are SLOs important?

Student Learning Outcomes give students a way to think and talk about what they have learned. They make it easier for students to “know what they know” and give students a language to communicate what they know to others.  

Assessing outcomes also helps provide more individualized learning paths for diverse groups of learners, provides valuable information to support economic and labor market needs, and improves the quality of education. 

What is eLumen?

The most challenging aspect of academic assessment is collecting data. With eLumen software, collecting data for assessment embeds seamlessly to the process of day to day teaching and learning. NOCE uses eLumen software to centrally manage assessment projects using flexible rubrics and to collect evidence through multiple methods. This data allows assessment to become part of the continuous improvement plan.

Guiding Principles for SLO Assessment

In 2010, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges published the Guiding Principles for SLO Assessment. NOCE uses these 11 principles to guide our Student Learning Outcome Assessment processes. 

Principle One:

Faculty have the primary responsibility for developing assessment tools and determining the uses of data that are collected, and therefore faculty engagement and active involvement in SLO assessment is essential.


Principle Two:

Outcomes assessment is a process that should involve all appropriate participants at each level of the college, not just select groups or individuals.


Principle Three:

SLOs and SLO assessment should be connected to the overall culture of the college through the college vision or values statement, program review processes, and college curriculum, planning, and budgeting process.


Principle Four:

SLOs should be clearly mapped and aligned throughout a course sequence and among various levels (course, program, institution) to achieve the most efficient and effective assessment.


Principle Five:

SLO assessment should be as authentic as possible and should be minimally intrusive to the educational experience of students and the instructional planning and performance of faculty.


Principle Six:

Rather than relying on one assessment method for all situations, effective assessment may benefit from a variety of methods, even within a single course, that can respond to different learning outcomes, teaching styles, and student learning needs.


Principle Seven:

Assessment data do not exist in a vacuum and must be analyzed alongside all other factors that may impact achievement of outcomes.


Principle Eight:

SLO Assessment processes and grading are different but mutually compatible activities and should complement rather than conflict with each other.


Principle Nine:

Effective outcomes assessment requires a college commitment of sufficient staff and resources.


Principle Ten:

SLO assessment of student learning outcomes is a process that is separate from faculty evaluation.


Principle Eleven:

Faculty should engage in SLO development and assessment not because it is a requirement for accreditation but rather because it is good professional practice that can benefit programs and students.

The SLO Cycle infographic. There are 6 steps in the cycle.
Prioritizing course of content from Could know, to should know, and to must know.
The diagram below shows how learning outcomes at all levels correspond to and support the College Mission. Course SLOs are most numerous and are the foundation upon which the various Program SLOs are built; both contribute to and reinforce the Institutional Student Learning Outcomes which support the mission of the College.

More information?

Download the SLO infographics in PDF form.