Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can outcomes assessment be used to evaluate faculty?
WASC has clearly stated in their policies that SLOs are not a tool that should be used to evaluate faculty. The outcomes and assessment committee is working to develop a policy statement to address the use of SLOs in the faculty evaluation process. Chaffey’s labor management committee is considering a “best practices” statement language addressing this issue which will appear in the next faculty contract.
2. Is the outcomes assessment cycle and process complicated?
No, the SLO assessment cycle is a simple five step process
- Step 1: Develop your outcome statement
- Step 2: Determine your means of assessment
- Step 3: Determine your criteria or benchmark for success
- Step 4: Assess your outcome and collect evidence
- Step 5: Use your results to modify your course, program or outcome
3. Do Course-level SLOs have to be developed?
Yes, the WASC Accreditation Commission ACCJC is mandating that SLOs be developed and integrated at the institution, program and course level. For further information see the ACCJC/WASC Rubric for Evaluating Institutional Effectiveness: Student Learning Outcomes.
4. Will faculty have to assess every SLO, in every class, every semester?
No. The assessment of your SLOs does not have to be an overwhelming process. The who, what, when, and how to assess will be determined by the faculty members in the department. There are guidelines that will help you in completing the SLO cycle, but nothing mandating that you assess a certain number or certain class.
5. Are there only a few ways to assess SLOs?
The ways that you may use to assess your SLOs are infinite. Assessing SLOs does not mean giving pre and post tests, student surveys or exams. Some ways you may assess your SLOs include:
- Research Projects
- Oral Presentations
- Community Service Projects
- Capstone Projects
6. Is there a magic number of SLOs for a program or course?
There is no mandate, standard or requirement for the number of SLOs for your program or course. The number of SLOs is determined by each individual program and may be based on professional association requirements, certification guidelines, accreditation committee recommendations or state licensing requirements. The outcomes and assessment committee recommends having 3 to 5 outcomes for your program or course.
7. You Can Just Drop Off Your Data at Institutional Research and “They Can Take Things From There”?
The SLO cycle must be a collaborative ongoing process embedded in collaborative dialogue. If you have questions about assessing your SLO, check in with institutional research for some insight. Do not call them in after the fact. “To call in the statistician after the experiment is done may be no more than asking him to perform a postmortem examination; he may only be able to say what the experiment died of.” Sir Ronald Fischer.
8. Is there a difference between a course objective from the COR and an SLO, they can be the same?
SLOs are different from course objectives and are actually built on them. Course objectives can be considered the “nuts and bolts” of the course. SLOs are what we expect students to do with the “nuts and bolts” after they leave the course.
9. Are grades the same as SLO Assessment?
Assessment isn’t the same as assigning grades. Grading standards might be vague, while
assessment information is very specific.
Grades do not provide:
- Specific information about students’ performance on discrete tasks
- Meaningful data across sections
- Objective student data which can be used for improvement of student learning or recognition of student achievement
Grades alone do not give enough information on specific strengths and weaknesses of students.
10. When a criterion or benchmark has been set for an outcome, IT MUST Be Met?
Whether or not the criterion is met is not as important as what we do with the information we learn from the assessment. It is more important that we learn something to help us improve our instruction and/or services rather than whether we met the criterion or outcome.
11. Course Level SLOs do not have to be attached to the Course Outline of Record (COR) for Curriculum?
ACCJC is requiring all colleges to have course level SLOs on record with the COR.
Curricunet addendum page for the placement of these SLOs has been created and is ready for programs to begin the process of inputting the information.
12. Course SLOs do not have to be in your syllabi?
ACCJC has indeed indicated that course SLOs should be in the syllabi.
13. Where can I get help with developing my SLOs?
Even though you might feel alone in the world of outcomes assessment you are not.
There will be plenty of support and resources to help you.
These resources include:
- Your outcomes and assessment coordinators
- The outcomes and assessment committee
- Institutional research
- Professional development opportunities
- The outcomes and assessment website
14. Do programs have to analyze the data they collect or can they just give it to Institutional Research for them to do it?
If you have worked with institutional research in designing your assessment tool, they can help you analyze. They will not interpret the data though. You know best how to do that within your own disciplines.