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Defining Student Learning Outcomes

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According to the California Academic Senate, student learning outcomes “are the specific measurable goals and results that are expected subsequent to a learning experience. These outcomes may involve knowledge (cognitive), skills (behavioral), or attitudes (affective) that provide evidence that learning has occurred as a result of a specified course, program activity, or process. A Student Learning Outcome refers to an overarching goal for a course, program, degree or certificate, Student Services area or the library, one that asks students to synthesize many discreet skills using higher level thinking skills and to produce something that asks them to apply what they’ve learned. SLOs usually encompass a gathering together of smaller discrete objectives through analysis, evaluation and synthesis into more sophisticated skills and abilities. (California Academic Senate, Draft SLO Terminology Glossary)

As recently defined by accreditation expectations, “In an ideal situation, intended student learning outcomes should be the foundation upon which a course is developed. Faculty first define the learning outcomes they expect successful students to achieve and demonstrate, and then from those intended outcomes, design the course. Pedagogy, learning environment, and learning support materials all follow from intended SLOs.

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