How to Create Student Learning Outcomes
What is a student learning outcome (SLO)?
A concise written statement of knowledge, skills, or values students will acquire upon completing the course or degree program. It is an explicit statement of what students should know or be able to do.
For Mason’s academic degree programs, student learning outcomes should reflect opportunities that are available to all students in the program.
Breaking down student learning outcomes
Student = Focus is on students, not on the program, course, or instructor
Learning = An action that involves a cognitive process
Outcome = Measureable, observable event
Ideal learning outcomes contain:
- A statement that begins with identifying the learner (“Upon completing this course/program, students will be able to…)
- A cognitive action verb (e.g., define, compute, analyze, critique, synthesize, design, construct). Avoid the verbs “know” and “understand.” Consult Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy for good verbs to use.
- One measureable learning statement per outcome
Students will design an experiment that tests a valid hypothesis
Students will construct appropriate and professional criticisms during design critiques
Students will interpret basic statistical analyses
Students will analyze Salman Rushdie’s early works using postcolonial theory
Students will summarize the main ethical considerations relevant to the field of nanotechnology
Students will complete 200 hours of internship experience
Improve writing a research paper
Students will appreciate 20th century American literature
The program will offer students the opportunity to build their research skills by conducting authentic laboratory experiments
Examples that need some improvement
Students will communicate effectively and within the norms of the field
Students will understand the historical context of evolutionary theory
Students will know the major morphophonological rules of English
9 Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning
Bloom’s Taxonomy of Measurable Verbs
For clear and detailed instruction on developing program-level student learning outcomes, check out: