How to write SLOs

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), simply speaking, describe what students should know, be able to do, and/or value by the end of their educational program. As such, SLOs commonly are focused on 3 dimensions of learning:

  • Knowledge: fundamental cognitive content, core concepts or questions, basic principles of inquiry, a broad history, and/or varied disciplinary techniques.
  • Skills: capacity for applying basic knowledge, analyzing and synthesizing information, assessing the value of information, communicating effectively, and collaborating.
  • Attitudes & values: affective states, personal/professional/social values, and ethical principles.

Process of writing SLOs

Step 1 : Have a brainstorming conversation with all constituents of the program (faculty, students, staff, alumni, employer, etc.). List things that an ideal graduate should know, understand, be able to do, value...

Step 2 : Review, synthesize and prioritize the list of things identified in Step 1. Decide on a manageable list of SLOs that are most important to the program at the present time. Keep in mind that SLOs can be changed and updated over time.

Step 3 : Compare the list of SLOs in Step 2 with the mission and learning goals at the university and college level, and if applicable, the requirements of the disciplinary accreditation agencies. Adjust the SLOs to ensure multi-level alignment.

Step 4 : Map the list of SLOs in Step 3 against the curriculum (Curriculum MappingOpens in new window ) to ensure that the SLOs are adequately addressed in the curriculum, and the objectives of all components of the curriculum/program are reflected in the SLOs. Make adjustments to create a final draft of SLOs.

Step 5 : Communicate the final SLOs and how they are reflected in each course to all faculty. Encourage faculty to align course learning outcomes and assessment structure with the program SLOs.

Step 6 : Collect and review assessment data on the SLOs with all constituents of the program. Revise the SLOs as appropriate.


Characteristics of sound SLOs

  • Aligned with university mission and learning goals
  • Specific, clear and concise
  • Demonstrable and measurable
  • Discrete (i.e. no “double-barrel” statements)
  • Realistic and manageable
  • Use active verbsPDF File Opens in new window
  • Focus on students (what students will gain), NOT instructors (what instructors will teach)