Academic Assessment



Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes for courses share the following characteristics:

  1. Courses typically have 3 to 5 student learning outcomes (SLOs), though fewer or more are possible.
  2.  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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5.  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

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.


KNOWLEDGE Student recalls or recognizes information, ideas, and principles in the approximate form in which they were learned.
  • Write
  • List
  • Label
  • Name
  • State
  • Define
  • Describe
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.
  • Explain
  • Summarize
  • Paraphrase
  • Discuss
  • Illustrate
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.
  • Use
  • Compute
  • Solve
  • Demonstrate
  • Apply
  • Construct
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
  • Apply
  • Analyze
  • Categorize
  • Compare Contrast
  • Separate
  • Use
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.
  • Compose
  • Construct
  • Create Design
  • Develop
  • Hypothesize
  • Invent
  • Integrate
  • Produce
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.
  • Argue
  • Assess
  • Judge
  • Rate
  • Recommend
  • Critique
  • Justify
  • Evaluate
  • Prioritize
  • Predict
The student will judge the effectiveness of writing objectives using Bloom's taxonomy.

(adapted from Valdasta State University)

Contact Information

Ruth E. Cain, Ed.D.

Director of Assessment
Administrative center, Room 351


Assessment Consultations

Caitlin Horsmon, Ph.D.

FaCET Faculty Assessment Mentor  Nichols Library, Suite 225

Dan Stroud, M.A.

Graduate Assistant for Assessment


FaCET Contact Person

Timothy Bergey

FaCET Graduate Research Assistant