Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a Student Learning Outcome?
2. What is the difference between a course SLO and a Program SLO?
3. Where can I find the SLOs for a course or Program?
4. Will the course SLOs be on the test?
5. Is this going to mean more work for me?
6. Why don’t you just use grades to measure learning?
7. What is an SAO?
8. What do you mean by “Assessment”?
9. Why is Merced College assessing Outcomes?
10. Can I see the assessment results?
11. What is a GELO?
12. Who to contact about Learning Outcomes?
Student Learning Outcomes, or SLOs, are general skills or knowledge that faculty expect successful students to have after completing a class or program of study. Faculty are expected to find a way to determine if their students can demonstrate they are achieving these desired outcomes. Assessment of SLOs will be used to improve student success at Merced College.
Both course and program SLOs are outcomes faculty expect to see in successful students – the difference is mainly in the goal. Course outcomes are specific to single classes. Program SLOs are the sum of the knowledge gained by students as they take the classes necessary to earn a degree or certificate. Additionally, other areas of the College, including the Learning Resource Center and Student Services, have programs with outcomes that are being assessed both in and outside of the classroom to improve student success at the college.
All instructors are required to print the SLOs for his or her course on the syllabus. Program SLOs can be found in the Merced College Catalog, listed with each degree or certificate. A complete list of the course and program SLOs will also be available on the Merced College Assessment website when it is completed.
Learning Outcomes for courses represent the overall goals of the course. SLOs should give students an idea about what the instructor feels is important for you to learn and what you should be able to do when the course is completed. Knowing the SLOs might affect your approach to studying for a class or even a program. Assessment of SLOs will not necessarily be part of your class assignments, and should not affect your grade in the class. Faculty assess learning outcomes to improve student learning in courses and programs.
Probably not. Assessment will often use an assignment that is already part of the course, or even sets of questions on an exam. Assessing SLOs can also be performed with a separate assignment or activity which will usually be integrated into the course. You may not even know an assessment is being done.
Grades are a faculty evaluation of a student’s learning in the class as a whole, and is an assessment of all the work. It might include points for homework and tests, in addition to points earned for participation or attendance. Some of these factors are unrelated to the knowledge, values and abilities examined when assessing learning outcomes.
This acronym stands for Service Area outcome, and refers to a similar process as student learning outcome, but SAOs represent desired outcomes of services provided to students and the college community. Areas of Merced College, such as Counseling and the Learning Resource center provide services to students which can have an impact on student success both in and out of the classroom.
This refers to the process faculty and staff at Merced College use to determine if students are achieving the outcome. It includes a phases like planning how we can measure student success for a given outcome outcome. After planning, the data needs to be collected and analyzed. Based on the analysis of the results, another round of planning is used to make necessary changes that might increase student success. It is important to note that these changes will not always work, but the end result is to make an effort to increase student success and the effectiveness of the institution as a whole.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) has adopted 4 standards to promote student success - this includes defining and assessing SLOs for all instructional programs and student and learning support services. Assessment looks at the “output” from the college, asking faculty and staff to prove that students are reaching the level of achievement pledged by Merced College. The results are used to inform the college about student success, and allows for continuous improvement at the course, student services, program or institutional level.
Merced College is currently working on the Assessment website to make results available to students and the public. Instructors want to see if classes as a whole met the outcome, not individual students so names are not always collected. Other times, analysis of the assessment won’t take place until after the course has ended. Ask the faculty who teach your course, and check back on the Assessment website as it is updated.
Assessment reports from years prior to 2015 are stored on CurricuUNET (www.curricunet.com) or on the MC4Me portal (password protected).
General education Learning Outcomes represent the overall set of values and abilities a student graduating from Merced College should possess as a result of their educational experiences. More information can be found in the GELO section of the Assessment website. The five Merced College GELOs embrace a variety of attributes, including:
Global and Community Consciousness and Responsibility, and
Personal Development and Life-Long Learning
Speak to your class professor first.
Check the assessment website for more information.
For a more detailed picture about classroom assessment at Merced College, you can contact the coordinators of the Assessment Review Committee and/or IPRSLOAC, the Instructional Program Review Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee