Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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What is an SLO?

An SLO is a "student learning outcome," or, in other words, what a student should be able to do at the end of a course, program, or any learning experience at the college.  SLOs may be at the course level, program level or institutional level.  Program-level learning outcomes are called PLOs.  The institutional level SLOs are also called ILOs.


What is the difference between an SLO and a course objective? 

SLO statements and course objectives might look very similar but are, in fact, very different in terms of their use and function.  This table contains the different characteristics of course objectives and SLOs.

Course Objectives


...act as a guideline--provide the nuts and bolts-- for how a course should be structured the overarching end-product of a course, program, or educational experience

...are comprehensive.  There is a course
objective for each part of a course.

...are holistic.  At the course level, they may link together several course objectives.

...state the skills and content important for the
course.  They act as the input of the course.

...involve higher order thinking skills that may
integrate many aspects of the course or program into one end product.

...are not necessarily linked to an assessment, but faculty teach to the course objectives.

...are linked to an assessment cycle.  Faculty assess students based on the stated outcomes as well as make improvements based on the results of their assessments.

... are found at the course level.

...are found at three levels--course, program, and institutional.

...are a permanent part of the course outline of record.

...are linked to the course outline of record, but may change based on asessment results.

...are reviewed and approved by the College Curriculum Committee.

...are the responsibility of the faculty who teach the course or in the program.


What is assessment?

Assessment is how we determine if the students are meeting our outcomes or not.  Even before SLOs, teachers have always assessed their students through tests or assignments.  Thus, when you are deciding on your assessment, you do not have to reinvent the wheel--use assessments that you already do.  Here are some examples of different types of assessments:

  • test / exam
  • quiz
  • survey
  • writing assignment
  • capstone test / writing assignment
  • performance / skill demonstration
  • portfolio
  • licensing exam
  • pre-post test or survey (a test or survey that you give at the beginning and the end of a learning experience to determine learning growth


What is the difference between a course-level SLO and a program-level PLO?


Course-level SLO

Program-Level PLO

...states what the students should be
able to do at the end of a course.

...states what the students should be
able to do at the end of a program. assessed in a single course or
several sections of the same course.

...may be assessed at the end of a single
course if it is a capstone course or the
highest level course in the program. assessed by analyzing the assessment
results independently of other courses.

... is assessed by analyzing assessment
results in the context of other courses in the


Must I put SLOs in my course syllabus?

Yes, all faculty are being asked to put SLO statements in their syllabi.  We want to share SLOs with students.  One obvious way of doing this is by including SLOs in course syllabi and by creating dialogue with students about learning outcomes. 


Where do I find SLOs online? 

At the academic division webpages and on TracDat.  Click here to access division webpages.


What deadlines exist for SLOs?

Please visit the division SLO webpages to view assessment timelines.

What can I do right now?

Get your colleagues together to talk about SLOs and assessment!  If you need some guidance or direction, contact one of the SLO coordinators or your division SLO Facilitator.  Check the Staff Development or the SLO webpages for training opportunities in SLOs, PLOs, rubrics, TracDat, and other areas.