Why does the C-1 (course template) need to include a question asking for student learning outcomes (SLOs)?
The main external impetus towards gathering this information comes from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which noted in the “Advancement Section” of its report to UC following its site visit here:
The development and implementation of assessment efforts across the university has been noteworthy in the past two years, however, documenting the influence of assessment on student learning is in the early stages. The visiting team recommends that in order to understand the university assessment activity as a whole, UC should create a university-wide planning process for academic assessment with over-arching goals and time tables.
Elsewhere in this same report, the HLC reviewers emphasized the need for UC to “create widespread consensus on a definition of assessment that involves help in understanding how to assess student learning outcomes. The faculty must own and value the process.”
For many UC courses, defining SLOs for a course or program will be a routine matter because those will already exist through documents prepared for other accreditation processes, in the form of well-crafted outcomes for TAG courses, or through the standards and guidelines of national professional organizations. The process of defining SLOs thus rests upon conventions and expectations that not only already exist throughout much of the disciplines and professions but that are also steadily increasing in importance.
In terms of our own hopes that a “conversion from quarters to semesters truly means a transformation of teaching and learning at UC,” the identification of SLOs plays a major role in achieving that vision. We see this process as helping faculty to be more purposeful in aligning course content and assignments with the stated outcomes; and also helping students to focus their own learning in more effective ways. Carefully defined SLOs can thus allow both instructors and students to be more efficient within the teaching and learning process.
If we are to be serious about the task of assessing student learning, we need to put in place the SLOs that will be necessary for such assessment ever to take place. Amidst the various questions on the C-1 form, the one about SLOs is the most important that we ask.