Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes for courses share the following characteristics:
- Courses typically have 3 to 5 student learning outcomes (SLOs), though fewer or more are possible.
- SLOs are derived from the more comprehensive course goals. SLOs use specific language that is understandable to students. They should focus on what a student should know, be able to do with the knowledge covered, or believe / value, not simply on what the instructor will cover.
- SLOs should employ active verbs, usually taken from the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy--e.g., students should be able to "analyze" or "evaluate," not "define" or "describe." (see table below)
- As often as possible, SLOs should be developed collaboratively, as instructors who teach the same course come to consensus about the key objectives. (For course-level SLOs, instructors will undoubtedly have SLOs of their own in addition to consensus ones.) Adjunct instructors--and students themselves--should be involved in the process of developing SLOs as much as possible.
- SLOs should be measurable. Ideally, they should contain or make reference to the product (papers, projects, performances, portfolios, tests, etc. through which students demonstrate competency) and the standard (e.g., "with at least 80% accuracy") or criterion by which success is measured. When the behavior/product and standard are specified, the SLO is sometimes referred to as made "operational."
Bloom's Taxonomy Beginning in 1948, a group of educators undertook the task of classifying education goals and objectives. Work on the cognitive domain was completed in 1956 and is commonly referred to as Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain (Bloom et al., 1956). The major idea of the taxonomy is that what educators want students to know can be arranged in a hierarchy from less to more complex. The taxonomy is presented below with sample verbs and a sample behavior statement for each level.
|LEVEL||DEFINITION||SAMPLE VERBS||SAMPLE SLOS|
|KNOWLEDGE||Student recalls or recognizes information, ideas, and principles in the approximate form in which they were learned.||
||The student will define the 6 levels of Bloom's taxonomy of the cognitive domain.|
|COMPREHENSION||Student translates, comprehends, or interprets information based on prior learning.||
||The student will explain the purpose of Bloom's taxonomy of the cognitive domain.|
|APPLICATION||Student selects, translates, and uses data and principles to complete a problem or task with minimum of direction.||
||The student will write an instructional objective for each level of Bloom's taxonomy.|
|ANALYSIS||Student distinguishes, classifies, and relates the assumptions, hypotheses, evidence, or structure of a statement or question||
||The student will compare and contrast the cognitive and affective domains.|
|SYNTHESIS||Student originates, integrates, and combines ideas into a product, plan or proposal that is new to him or her.||
||The student will design a classification scheme for writing educational objectives that combines the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains.|
|EVALUATION||Student appraises, assesses, or critiques on a basis of specific standards and criteria.||
||The student will judge the effectiveness of writing objectives using Bloom's taxonomy.|
(adapted from Valdasta State University)