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Best Practices in Writing Student Learning Outcomes Jill Allison Kern, PhD Director of Assessment Christopher Newport University July 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Best Practices in Writing Student Learning Outcomes Jill Allison Kern, PhD Director of Assessment Christopher Newport University July 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Best Practices in Writing Student Learning Outcomes Jill Allison Kern, PhD Director of Assessment Christopher Newport University July 2014

2 Student learning outcomes (SLOs) is a generic term that refers to what students should know or be able to do upon the successful completion of: A course—also known as Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs), A program—also known as Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs), or Any degree at the university—also known as Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs). What Are Student Learning Outcomes?

3 Every SLO has a “hook” and “ladder.”

4 Students who successfully complete [name the learning unit] should be able to do the following: The “Hook” The hook is an SLO’s introductory phrase. It is always some variation on this:

5 Upon the successful completion of Psychology 101, students should be able to do the following: Those who earn a passing grade in Fine Arts 336 will be able to: Graduates with a major in Computer Engineering will have the following abilities: Those who earn an undergraduate degree at CNU should be able to do the following: Examples of Hooks

6 The “Ladder” The ladder is the list of skills and knowledge that students need to demonstrate to pass the course, complete the academic program successfully, or graduate.

7 (The term “ladder” isn’t meant to imply a hierarchy or progression of skills; it’s just a term chosen as a visual reminder of a bullet- pointed list.)

8 For each rung in the ladder to be assessable, it needs to meet these two criteria:

9 Criterion 1 for Rung to Be Assessable: It must start with a verb that can be observed by the instructor.

10 Describe Explain List Present Write Formulate Create Analyze Arrange Critique Synthesize Predict Examples of Observable Verbs

11 Know Learn Understand Comprehend Appreciate Study Recognize Become familiar with Be knowledgeable about Think Value Realize Become aware of See Examples of Non-observable Verbs

12 Know the arguments Reflect on the issues Think critically Understand the principles Comprehend the methods Appreciate art Summarize the arguments Discuss one’s reflections on the issues Identify assumptions implicit in theories Apply the principles Explain the methods Describe the aesthetic properties of art works that appeal to you Not ObservableObservable Translate Non-observable SLOs into Observable Ones

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14 For more lists of verbs to use in SLOs:  Go to cnu.edu/assessment/resources  Then, click on hyperlinks to documents under “Step 1”

15 Criterion 2 for Rung to Be Assessable: It must use only one verb in each SLO.

16 Double-Barreled (not assessable): Students who successfully earn a degree in communication studies will be able to write and speak effectively.

17 Single-Barreled (assessable): Students who successfully earn a degree in communication studies will be able to write effectively. Students who successfully earn a degree in communication studies will be able to speak effectively.

18 SLOs that connect two or more verbs with “or” are assessable; SLOs that connect two or more verbs with “and” are not.

19 Students who successfully earn a degree in communication studies will be able to write or speak effectively. Single-Barreled (assessable):

20 Graduates with a BA in Sociology should be able to: PLO-1: Identify sociological concepts and major theorists. PLO-2: Explain primary social theories. PLO-3: Design a research project using the appropriate social science methodology. PLO-4: Evaluate empirical research. PLO-5: Apply sociocultural concepts, perspectives and principles to substantive areas addressed by social sciences. PLO-6: Explain social and cultural phenomena using a cross-cultural perspective. Ladder Hook

21 More Best Practices in Writing SLOs

22 The verb used in an SLO should determine the data that will be collected to assess the SLO. Best Practice 1

23 Examples of SLO Verb Informing What Data to Collect Students who pass Great Books of the Western World should be able to list at least five attributes of texts influenced by Western traditions. To assess, collect lists of text attributes. Students who successfully earn a degree in journalism will be able to write effectively. To assess, collect writing samples. Students who successfully complete Math 300 will be able to use quantitative reasoning to solve problems. To assess, collect problems that are solved using quantitative reasoning.

24 Avoid using verbs or adjectives that imply a comparison of skills between one point in time and another because such SLOs require a pre- and post-measure. Best Practice 2

25 AVOID Comparative VerbsComparative Adjectives DevelopDeveloped ImproveImproved EnhanceEnhanced DeepenDeepened StrengthenStrengthened

26 Requires data collection at two points in time: Those who earn a degree in music will improve their capacity to compose complex scores or play an instrument. Requires data collection at two points in time: Those who earn a degree in music will demonstrate an enhanced capacity to compose complex scores or play an instrument. Requires collection of summative (end-point) data only: Those who earn a degree in music will be able to compose complex scores or play an instrument skillfully.

27 No CLO should be repeated across two or more of a major’s required courses Best Practice 3 Students shouldn’t take multiple courses designed to produce the same learning

28 If a sequence of courses is designed to enable students to develop a skill at a more sophisticated level or to deepen their knowledge of a given topic, then the CLOs should be written to reflect the differing levels of skill/knowledge students are expected to demonstrate in each course.

29 Students who successfully complete CHEM 122L will demonstrate safe and generally accepted laboratory techniques for simple chemistry experiments. Students who successfully complete CHEM 322L will demonstrate safe and generally accepted laboratory techniques for complex chemistry experiments. Students who earn a passing grade in Music 325 will be able to demonstrate technical proficiency in their chosen instrument during a live public performance. Students who earn a passing grade in Music 425 will be able to demonstrate technical mastery in their chosen instrument during a live public performance. To complete French 200 successfully, students should be able to conjugate regular verbs in the imperfect tense correctly when speaking. To complete French 300 successfully, students should be able to conjugate regular verbs in the imperfect tense when writing. Examples of SLOs Specifying Depth of Learning

30 A person in your field unfamiliar with your course or program should be able to read an SLO and know precisely what students are expected to learn Best Practice 4

31 Those earning a passing grade in Chemistry 232 will be able to identify the principles underlying the experiments performed in the course. The following SLO would be unclear to a chemistry professor unfamiliar with what is taught in CNU’s Chemistry 232: Those earning a passing grade in Chemistry 232 will be able to identify the principles underlying basic experiments on combustions, particles, and enzymes. The following SLO would be clear to a chemistry professor unfamiliar with what is taught in CNU’s Chemistry 232:

32 Best Practice 5 Keep the list of SLOs short to make assessment manageable Limit the SLOs to the necessary skills and knowledge that students are to acquire About four to six CLOs for a three-unit course About five to nine PLOs for a major About four through seven ILOs for a degree

33 Number your SLOs so that you may refer to them in syllabi, on graded assignments, and in assessment reports. Best Practice 6

34 Upon the successful completion of the Fine Arts major with a Studio Art concentration, students will be able to: PLO – 1: Develop a body of work that demonstrates conceptual intent. PLO – 2: Create a body of work that demonstrates technical skill. PLO – 3: Critically evaluate art work using appropriate terminology. PLO – 4: Produce a portfolio that includes an artist’s statement, artist resume, and professional slides/documentation of their work. Hook Ladder Enumeratio n

35 ENG 257 CLO-2: Students who successfully complete this course will be able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of literary texts as demonstrated by a review they write on a novel from the Renaissance, Victorian, and contemporary periods. COMP ENG PLO-5: Graduates of CNU’s computer engineering BS program will be able to design hardware components that meet a variety of client needs. AICE SLO-1: Upon the successful completion of the Creative Expressions Area of Inquiry, students will be able to apply concepts from the humanities to describe artistic endeavors or participate in a fine art, such as creating a painting or choreographing a dance. More Exemplary SLOs


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