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Course Student Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes at the course level are regularly assessed to promote collaboration and improve instruction across the institution. Assessment helps facilitate changes to curriculum, inspires professional development, encourages documentation of areas where new needs have emerged, initiates program-wide dialogue, connects instructors with shared approaches to learning, and guides college planning.

Departments develop and communicate their 2-6 year assessment plan to the college. A department’s assessment plan is set at the beginning of the cycle and documented yearly (see  example EnglishAssessmentCycle.docx and SociologyAssessmentCycle.docx). 

All faculty members who teach courses designated for assessment documentation according to the department plan are responsible for assessing SLOs, recording results, and participating in dialogue.

  1. For assessment that involves collecting information across several sections, a course-level template can be useful to facilitate data gathering. Learning outcomes coordinators are available to help create these templates (see example EMT 90 Template). For faculty new to assessment, see this video for an overview on how to fill out a course-level template.
  2. Faculty are encouraged to use their own rubrics when evaluating student achievement. To calculate quantitative results across multiple sections, a course-level rubric can be useful to facilitate data gathering. Learning outcomes coordinators are available to help create these rubrics (see example DART 130 Rubric). For faculty new to assessment, see this video for an overview on how to fill out a course-level rubric.
  3. Student learning outcomes, methods of assessment, success criterion, results and action plans are officially recorded online in Nuventive. Faculty assessing a single section are encouraged to input results directly. Division secretaries may be assigned to enter data reports or the Learning Outcomes Coordinator may arrange data entry assistance when needed. Tutorial videos forthcoming!
  4. Faculty attend department, division, and flex day meetings to discuss results and share ideas for improving teaching and learning.

All courses at NVC have Student Learning Outcomes listed on the Course Outline of Record, which appears in CourseLeaf. The SLOs of a course are usually developed through collegial discussion among faculty who create, revise, and/or teach a course. When writing SLOs:

  • State what a learner will be able to do as a result of participation in the course, program, and/or degree or certificate.

  • Use action terms: analyze, solve, create, record, etc. Consider Bloom's Taxonomy of terms to promote multiple levels of cognition.

  • Ask students to produce something ‐ papers, projects, portfolios, demonstrations, performances, art works, exams etc. – that applies what they have learned.

  • Think beyond your classroom and consider the skills your students will need to be successful in their academic or professional next steps.

Bloom's Taxonomy Triangle

Effective assessment occurs as part of the course’s regular activities – tests, projects, papers, or demonstrations of skills that are normally used for grading students.

First identify what assessment tools are currently being used to evaluate student performance. Assessment tools for courses shall be consistent with existing grading and evaluations methods (COR). Discipline faculty can then confer and agree upon common assessment tools to be used in courses with multiple sections.

Examples of Methods

Midterm exams, final exams, projects, presentations, performances, surveys, and written assignments such as research papers, essays, critiques are sample activities that can provide measurable evidence of student achievement.

Math 120, Calculus, SLO 3: Evaluate definite and indefinite integrals using the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

Method: Test/Quiz. Each instructor will collect data from 3 questions of varying degrees of difficulty.

Music 128, Audition Techniques, SLO 1:  Present an audition for peer, academic and professional review.

Method: Presentation/Performance. Student final audition performance scored on a 1- 5, six-trait rubric.

Criteria refers to the performance standards that determine whether or not a student has achieved a given level of knowledge or skill proficiency, i.e. the benchmark indicating when a student has achieved the knowledge, skill, or ability the SLO describes.

Examples of Criteria:

Using a 100 point analytic rubric, at least 70% of students will earn a minimum of 70 points on the final essay.    

At least 70% of the class will correctly answer each of the three common multiple choice questions that are embedded in every section’s final exam.

Results might confirm effective instruction and/or suggest areas where changes in teaching or materials might improve students’ learning. Consider in what ways expectations were exceeded. Identify areas where the expected outcome for success was not met. Possible questions to pose: What issues and needs were revealed? How do the results compare to any baseline or benchmark data previously collected? Were there any surprising or unexpected findings? Did the assessment work, and if not, what needs to be revised? What changes to pedagogy are warranted? What additional resources are needed to implement these changes and others?

Sample Results

English 120, Reading and Composition, SLO 1: Think, read, and write critically about a variety of ethical, civic, and intercultural issues.

Method: Writing. Students will write an essay in response to a reading on an ethical, civic, or intercultural issue.

Quantitative: 80% of students received a grade of 70 or higher on the essay.

Qualitative: The balance between each student’s voice and the use of source material was strong in most essays.  Research was well analyzed, with some synthesis showing areas of agreement on ethical issues between sources. Students showed creativity in their ideas, and competency in their ability to sustain a thesis throughout. Students struggled in presenting a variety of sources. They are likely not expanding their online searches wide enough to pull together diverse and effective support material.

Analyzing the data, crafting an action plan, and implementing changes can help all students reach or exceed the benchmark established in the success criteria. Some action plan possibilities that can lead to program improvements include: conduct further assessment, use new or revised teaching methods, develop new evaluation methods, plan purchase of new equipment or supplies, make staffing changes, engage in professional development, revise course sequence, prerequisites, or course outline of record.

Sample Action Plan:

Create a handout to help students practice evaluating sources outside of library databases. Recommend students attend Success Center workshops on searching for sources. Increase classroom access to computer labs where instructors can be present while students search for more diverse materials.


NVC coordinators, deans, faculty chairs and faculty regularly communicate to facilitate resources and ensure assessment is ongoing at the course-level. 

Fall Contact Dates Spring Contact Dates
Coordinators send out templates October 1 Coordinators send out templates March 1
Individual Faculty return templates November-December Individual Faculty return templates April-May
Data is entered into Nuventive December-January Data is entered into Nuventive May-June
Coordinators aggregate February 1 Coordinators aggregate September 1