The Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Mandate
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the accreditation agency for California Community Colleges, requires student learning outcomes assessment as part of the accrediting process.
WASC 2002, Standard H: Section A 1 c., specifically requires community colleges to:
Identify student learning outcomes for courses, programs, degrees, and certificates;
Assess progress toward achievement of the identified student learning outcomes;
Use assessment results to make improvements.
Definition of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
Student Learning Outcomes: Measurable cognitive, psychomotor, or affective skills or knowledge acquired which embody the overarching goals of a course, program or student service unit.
Both courses and programs have SLOs. Course SLOs should be aligned with the program SLOs for the program that the course belongs to. Some courses will be aligned with a degree or certificate program, some with an institutional-level program (like GE or College Skills), while still others may belong to both a degree or certificate and also an institutional-level program (see Appendix A).
Benefits to the Faculty, Department, Program, and College of Implementing this Assessment Process
All people involved in higher education care about the results of the instruction they provide to students. the WASC standard formalizes this concern into a concrete process. It asks faculty, department chairs, program direc-tors, and administrators to document the ways in which they are assessing the results of student learning and then use that knowledge to improve the instructional process.
Timeline for Full Implementation
By Fall Semester 2012, College of the Canyons was tasked to demonstrate to WASC that we have moved to the “Proficient” stage of SLO implementation (see Appendix B). All courses, degrees, certificates, and institutional-level programs (GE areas, CTA, College Skills) must be assessed, evaluated, and analyzed before fall 2012.
Responsibility for the Process
Student Learning Outcomes Committee is charged with facilitating the process of developing and assessing SLOs and providing information and support to academic and non-instructional departments as they work to meet the timetable established by the College and WASC.
At the course and program level, departments are responsible for identifying student learning outcomes, assessing the results, and making decisions about what actions to take once the results have been analyzed. Departments should decide if the best way to assess outcomes is through shared assessment tools or coordination of different assessment tools.
Departments are aided in this process through two channels: the course outline approval process in Curriculum Committee and the Academic Program Review. When a proposal for a new course or program or for modification of an existing course or program comes before the Curriculum Committee, members will assist faculty in reviewing the SLOs and the proposed assessment tools. During Program Review, departments will document the data they have collected showing the results of the outcomes, and they will describe the changes called for by their analysis of the data.
At the institutional level, interdepartmental groups will meet to develop SLOs and assessment plans that are aligned with course SLOs for the General Education, CTE (Career Technical Education) and College Skills programs.