Outcomes Assessment and Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Assessment Background | Assessment Guidelines |Inputting SLO Assessments using TracDat

Outcomes and Assessment at GWC

The assessment process involves both gathering information and using that information as a means to improve teaching, student learning, student services, and administrative services. It includes making our expectations explicit and public, and setting appropriate criteria and high standards. It centers on systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well performance matches those expectations and standards; moreover, it enables us to use the resulting information to document, explain, and heighten performance. Assessment helps us create a shared academic culture dedicated to continually improving the quality of higher education. Thus, assessment is not a single set of actions, but an ongoing cyclical process, which permeates the institution.

The GWC Mission Statement addresses the college’s commitment to an intellectually and culturally stimulating learning environment for its students, and to prepare them to become lifelong learners. The GWC Vision Statement commits the college to endeavor to provide an optimum teaching and learning environment.

The culture of the college is not limited to its demographic characteristics. The scope of the college culture includes its demonstrated commitment to the shared governance process. This process promotes high quality education through an institutionalized practice of faculty, staff, administrative, and student collaboration, dialogue, assessment, analysis, and planning as it applies to the decision-making process and to the improvement of student learning.

The common thread running through these statements is the constant focus on the improvement of all facets of student learning as the college moves forward collaboratively to achieve its goals through academic, institutional, demographic, and technological challenges.
GWC subscribes to and follows the Guiding Principles for SLO Assessment developed by the Academic Senate for California Community College – adopted in Fall 2010:

Principle One: Faculty have the primary responsibility for developing assessment tools and determining the use of data that are collected, and there faculty engagement and active involvement in SLO assessment is essential.
Principle Two: Outcomes assessment is a process that should involve all appropriate participants at each level of the college, not just select groups or individuals.
Principle Three: SLOs and SLO assessment should be connected to the overall culture of the college through the college vision or values statement, program review processes, and college curriculum, planning, and budgeting processes.
Principle Four: SLOs should be clearly mapped and aligned throughout a course sequence and among various levels (course, program, institution) to achieve the most efficient and effective assessment.
Principle Five: SLO assessment should be as authentic as possible and should be minimally intrusive to the educational experience of student and the instructional planning and performance of faculty.
Principle Six: Rather than relying on one assessment method for all situations, effective assessment may benefit from a variety of methods, even within a single course, that can respond to different learning outcomes, teaching styles, and student learning needs.
Principle Seven: Assessment data do not exist in a vacuum and must be analyzed alongside all other factors that may impact achievement of outcomes.
Principle Eight: SLO Assessment processes and grading are different but mutually compatible activities and should complement rather than conflict with each other.
Principle Nine: Effective outcomes assessment requires a college commitment of sufficient staff and resources.
Principle Ten: SLO assessment of student learning outcomes is a process that is separate from faculty evaluation.
Principle Eleven: Faculty should engage in SLO development and assessment not because it is a requirement for accreditation but rather because it is good professional practice that can benefit programs and students.

Assessment at GWC:

• consists of an ongoing systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of information,
• helps us evaluate the degree to which we are fulfilling our mission,
• focuses on assessment results to improve programs, services, teaching and learning,
• includes Student Learning Outcomes, Process Objectives and Satisfaction Objectives,
• facilitates broad communication and dialogue centering on outcomes, and
• includes both quantitative and qualitative data.

Participants include:

• instruction, student support services , administrative services, and executive services.
• individuals: faculty, staff, and managers.
• groups: committees and programs/departments.

The process of assessment:

• empowers faculty, staff, and administrators to more directly and efficiently improve student learning,
• generates information for proactive decisions within strategic planning,
• creates opportunities to reflect as individuals and groups, and
• enables us to comply with external regulations and expectations.

Results are used to:

• promote student success ,
• make improvements at the institutional, program, and course levels,
• generate self-reflection, collaboration, and dialogue, and
• identify and respond in meaningful ways to student and community needs.

Types of Outcomes Assessment

Institutional SLOs are defined as the core competencies (knowledge and skills) that are expected of all students whom have completed an Associate’s of Arts degree at GWC.

Assessment of iSLOs is accomplished through the aggregation of course assessment results from courses aligned with the iSLOs. Two iSLOs are targeted per year (assess and aggregate course results in the fall, then analyze and discuss changes in the spring). Each iSLO is assessed at least once within a three-year period (Program Review cycle).

Golden West College’s Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (iSLOs)

The successful student will demonstrate the following GWC ISLOs.

1. Specialized Subject Knowledge (Majors) – Demonstrate a depth of knowledge, skills, and abilities in a particular major.
2. Broad Knowledge - Demonstrate an understanding of the diverse perspectives, core concepts, and methods in the sciences, humanities, and arts.
3. Analytic Skills – Identify, evaluate, and apply logical and ethical reasoning to solve problems.
4. Information Competency Skills – Determine the scope of information needs; locate and retrieve relevant information; organize, analyze, and evaluate information; and understand the ethical and legal issues surrounding information and information technology.
5. Quantitative Skills – Convert information into relevant symbolic and mathematical forms (e.g. equations, graphs, diagrams, tables), provide accurate explanations of information presented in mathematical forms, and successfully perform calculations and symbolic operations.
6. Oral and Written Communication Skills – Produce clear and well-organized communication appropriate to the intended audience, context, and goal of the communication.
7. Applied Learning – Demonstrate how theories and practices learned in academic settings can be ethically applied and integrated into personal and professional pursuits.
8. Lifelong Learning – Demonstrate life-long learning strategies that are based on on-going self-assessment, education, appreciation of diverse perspectives, and acceptance of personal responsibility.

Program Student Learning Outcomes (pSLOs) are explicit statements describing the knowledge, skills, and abilities that a student will be able to demonstrate at the end (or as a result) of a program. Listed below are the expected SLOs for all of GWC’s Areas of Emphasis, Certificates of Achievement, Certificates of Specialization, and Majors.

Each program is expected to assess at least one pSLO per semester and assess each pSLO at least once within a three-year period (Program Review cycle).
When students enroll in a course and earn a passing grade, they expect to leave the course with knowledge and skills. On the first day of class and throughout the semester, we want to ensure that our students understand what they will be learning and how that learning is evaluated.

Official SLOs are created by faculty, approved by the Council for Curriculum & Instruction (CCI), and are publicly available course outlines of record (COR) published online in CurricUNET.

As per ACCJC, our Accrediting Commission, all faculty members are responsible for posting their student learning outcomes (SLOs) on the syllabus and assessing those SLOs. We asked that all faculty at GWC assessed at least one cSLO for every course that they teach, for every semester they teach and that each cSLO is assessed at least once within a three-year period (Program Review cycle).
Service Area Outcome (SAO) is a statement about what a student will experience, receive, or know as a result of a given service.

Service area outcomes focus on process, student satisfaction, or demonstration of knowledge/ability.

Process – services being provided efficiently, accurately, and equitably.
Ex: Increase in X number of FAFSA applications processed in X amount of time.
Satisfaction – services being provided in a satisfactory manner.
Ex: Number/Percentage of students reported being satisfied or extremely satisfied with X service/department in a given term/academic year.
Student knowledge/ability – students able to demonstrate knowledge upon receiving services.
Ex: Reduction in number of students on academic probation after receiving advising/counseling support.

Administrative units are responsible for sustaining the learning environment of the college. Though these units do not directly impact student learning, they do so indirectly. Their role in supporting the necessities for teaching and learning is vital to the educational experience of all students, the teaching experience of instructors and all staff members of the college community. Assessment of AUOs supports institutional effectiveness.

AUOs are overarching, clear and measurable statements used to define the unit's goals by describing what the unit does and its impact on its key stakeholders. Departments are expected to assessed at least one AUO per semester and assess each AUO at least once within a three-year period (Program Review cycle).

SLO Assessment Guidelines

When students enroll in a course and earn a passing grade, they expect to leave the course with knowledge and skills. On the first day of class and throughout the semester, we want to ensure that our students understand what they will be learning and how that learning is evaluated.

As per ACCJC, our Accrediting Commission, all faculty members are responsible for posting their student learning outcomes (SLOs) on the syllabus and assessing those SLOs. At GWC, we ask that all faculty assess all their SLOs within a three-year period (our program review cycle).

SLO Guidelines

1. Be sure to put the correct SLOs on your syllabus (check in CurricUNET) and discuss the SLOs with your students on the first day and during the course.
2. You must assess at least one SLO for every course you teach every time you teach.
3. You may assess more than one SLO, of course, and many instructors survey their students to see how students rate their mastery of the skills and knowledge learned during the course (Sample Syllabus Assignment Assessment Chart).
4. If teaching a course that has multiple sections, you may be contacted by your department chair or a faculty member in your department to let you know which SLO/SLOs will be assessed that semester.
You may be asked to send in the results of your assessment to the department chair or SLO point person, who then compiles all the results into one overall assessment.
5. The SLO assessment results will not be used in any way against faculty, not participating in actually doing the assessments will be problematic, as all faculty members are required to assess SLOs.
6. We have two ways to record our SLO data:

• either use the 5-Step Column Form to record your assessments OR
• record the information directly in TracDat.

Part-time faculty need the approval of their department chairs to access TracDat, as each department has its own protocol for how SLO information is collected. If using the five-step SLO form, do email the form to your SLOC and copy your department chair. One SLO is allowed per form.

7. It is a good idea to link the SLOs to specific activities and assignments on your syllabus; many professors also supply the grading rubrics in the syllabus and/or with the assignment (see syllabus chart for example of linking assignments and classwork to SLOs).


Search for official course SLOs in CurricUNET

1. Click on “Course” under the Search heading on the left-hand navigation menu.  You will be directed to a new screen.
2. Select “Golden West College” from the drop-down menu for “College”.
3. Select the subject name from the drop-down menu for “Subject”.
4. Click on the SLO icon next to the name of the course you would like to review.  Make sure that the course is “active” as indicated by the course name.

You will be directed to a new screen with the list of current official course SLOs for the chosen course.


TracDat is an assessment management system, designed to align course level student learning outcomes with program and institutional student learning outcomes. TracDat promotes transparency in sharing and creating student learning outcomes data. These are all pertinent information which are critical for program review, planning and accreditation.

We are working to fully transition to recording SLO assessments in TracDat and move away from paper forms.

Click HERE for more information on how to input SLO assessment data in TracDat.

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