Student Learning Outcomes & Assessment Cycle (SLOAC)
Program-level Outcomes (PLOs)
Program-level outcomes represent the goals you have for your students, upon completion of the set of courses that lead them through your program. At Chabot, we have started our assessment of outcomes at the course-level, and we are beginning to see the results of how well our students are achieving the outcomes from our programs through the CLOs. This is currently being done by alignment, which is where the CLO to PLO curriculum alignment matrix comes in.
In the future, we may wish to expand our practice into the direct assessment of PLOs as well. Perhaps there is not a suitable capstone course in your program where we can aggregate results from CLOs. Perhaps a qualitative approach, such as a focus group or survey asking the students what they are getting out of your program, would triangulate with the data from the matrix to give you good actionable information.
It helps to look at it that you would wish your students to get many or all of the outcomes of your program in all of the courses they might take within it. Then ask yourself, how are they learning that information? Which of my CLOs support the goals of the program? In this discussion, the program goals and outcomes have been envisioned as the same, however one might want to make the distinction that outcomes are measurable, and a subset of the entire program's goals. For example, you could have the goal to fundraise for your program, but that would not be a program-level outcome. Being able to function in the appropriate workplace would, however.
Writing Your Program-level Learning Outcomes
Discuss your student learning outcomes
Writing department or program student learning outcomes brings the faculty together to talk about the values and the forms of knowledge and thought that are essential to the program's discipline or interdisciplinary territory. It can be an eye-opener to discover the similarities and differences in the ways that members of a program faculty define what is at the heart of the program and define their educational goals for their students. The richness of this discussion is the first benefit of doing student learning assessment.
This discussion should not be skipped or rushed through. Given time, almost any program faculty will discover shared beliefs about the value of following their curriculum, and shared hopes about how that curriculum will benefit students who move through it. From these shared beliefs and hopes come a set of program-level student learning outcomes --that is, a set of statements about what a student who has moved through this sequence of courses will have learned and be able to do. The discussion may be organized by one person, but the whole program faculty should participate.
It might help to think of this as an envisioning exercise
Close your eyes for a few moments and imagine what your student is able to do after completing your sequence of courses. Are they at a 4-year university, or in the workforce? What knowledge do they have, what skills and abilities? What can they do? These are your program-level outcomes! Now ask yourself, in which courses are the students given an opportunity to develop this knowledge? At what levels are they able to practice it? Hopefully then, your course-level outcomes for those courses reflect this. The course-level outcomes may be in language that is a bit more specific.
Today, we are setting out to name two program-level outcomes (PLOs). They should be important values for your program, but do not have to encompass all the goals of your program (of course, that would speak to eventually writing more). They should be aligned to some of your course-level SLOs (CLOs), but not all of your course material and CLOs need to be aligned to these PLOs to be valid.
We are not setting out to develop rubrics
for these PLOs today. We believe that
assessment takes place at the course-level,
and that these PLOs will not be measured
directly. Therefore the PLOs will be
measured indirectly, through the CLOs that
support, and are aligned to them. That
is why we are locating those SLOs and
courses. This is a way to look at your
curriculum, and see if it is supporting the
goals of your program, and at what levels
are you giving the students an opportunity
to practice them: introduced, demonstrated,
and mastered. The definition of these
terms will vary by program.
This page was last updated 9.6.10
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