These are the steps in the process, and there are some examples at the bottom of this page.
Step 1 – How to Begin Choosing a LO for your Unit
Student Affairs LOs (also referred to as SLOs) ideally pertain to students who participate in a program you offer or who use a service you offer. But they can also pertain to your student interns or student employees, especially if you have more than a few students in those roles.
Your student learning outcomes should pertain to the most important aspects of your program. Look at your Mission Statement, and focus on something that is part of that.
What is some type of student learning that you:
- think or hope your students are getting from your program AND
- is central to your unit or department (e.g., tied to your Mission Statement) AND
- would be useful for you to know whether and to what extent the students are actually learning it?
Usually it will be easy to classify that student learning into one of our five domains.
Think about learning in terms of knowledge (e.g., harm of alcohol) or skills (e.g., presenting to a group), or a change in perspective or sensitivity (e.g., learning about challenges faced by an underrepresented group) or a new practice (e.g., more regular physical exercise).
UCI Student Affairs has five domains (categories) for learning outcomes. If needed, fine tune your LO so that it falls into one of these domains. (It might fall into more than one, but select the primary domain, the best fit.)
- Civic & Community Engagement
- Leadership Development
- Diversity & Global Consciousness
- Administrative & Professional Skills
- Personal Responsibility
Step 2 – How Will You Use Your LO Assessment Results?
Will data about this LO you are considering be useful?
- If you find that students are learning what your outcome says, will that help you to reallocate your budget, or to design a different or more advanced program?
- If you find that students are not learning, is it possible to change your program in a way that might allow for more student learning or to drop this program entirely and spend the money on something else?
If neither of the above are the case, i.e., results from this outcome will not be used to make programming or budgeting changes or decisions, go back to Step 1 and think of another LO. LO assessment needs to be useful, not simply a requirement (it’s actually a requirement that it be useful).
Step 3 – How Will You Measure Learning?
How will you determine whether and what your students learned or achieved?
- Direct Evidence: “test” of knowledge or rating of student presentation or other observation/rating by professional staff
- Indirect Evidence: ask students whether they learned
Try to use at least some direct evidence if possible, because it is much stronger evidence that your students are learning.
Here are some ways you might want to measure student learning:
- Student product (e.g., portfolio, journal, paper, project) rated by your professional staff using a rubric (or without rubric, but with rubric is stronger evidence of learning)
- Student presentation (or other performance) rated by your professional staff using a rubric (or without rubric, but with rubric is stronger evidence of learning)
- Pre- and post-tests of knowledge (or just post, but using both better measures learning)
- Pre- and post-surveys of opinions or beliefs (or just post, but both is better in many situations)
- Focus group or informal group discussion led by professional staff
- One-on-one interview with professional staff
- Checklist of what students accomplished
If you need help deciding between these or designing any of them, please ask.
Step 4 – Defining Success (Choosing your Benchmark)
How will you define program success, i.e., decide that sufficient learning has taken place?
- If 80% of the students answer at least 7 of the 9 test questions correctly at the conclusion of the program?
- If 85% of the students giving a presentation are judged as “good” or better by your professional staff, using a rubric?
- If 90% can name three more reasons not to drink alcohol on the posttest than on the pretest?
Step 5 – Write the LO and Benchmark
Write a one- or two-sentence statement and the associated benchmark. Be precise in your wording. For example, if you say “demonstrates” be sure that’s what you’re having the students do, demonstrate their learning. If you’re only asking students if they learned, your wording should be that students will report that they learned.
See the examples below.
Step 6 – Enter it into the SALO system
The Student Affairs Learning Outcomes (SALO) database is at salo.studentaffairs.uci.edu, and you need to enter your new LO and benchmark in it.
Instructions for using SALO »
Learning Outcome: Students who attend (Who) our Alcohol Awareness Class (Program) will increase their knowledge about the detrimental effects of excessive alcohol (What Learned).
Benchmark: 85% of students who take the Alcohol Awareness Class will be able to list at least three more detrimental effects of alcohol than they could at the start of the class. [This is “direct evidence” and implies the use of pre and post tests.]
Alternative Benchmark: 95% of students who take our Alcohol Awareness Class and do not answer at least nine of the 10 questions about the effects of alcohol on the body and how to reduce drinking correctly prior to the class will answer at least two additional questions correctly after taking the class. [This is “direct evidence” and implies the use of pre and post tests.]
Another Alternative Benchmark: 85% of students who take our Alcohol Awareness Class will answer at least 7 of the 8 questions about _______ correctly at the end of the class. [This is “direct evidence” and implies the use of post tests only, but it is weaker evidence because maybe the students knew 7 answers before they took the class.]
Another Alternative Benchmark: 90% of students who take our Alcohol Awareness Class will “agree” or “strongly agree” on the end of workshop evaluation form that they learned new methods to reduce their alcohol intake in the class. [This is “indirect evidence” so weak, but it’s better than nothing.]
Another Alternative Benchmark: Students who take our Alcohol Awareness Class will write and give a 10-minute presentation to peers about the dangers of alcohol. These presentations will be rated by professional staff using a rubric. 80% of the participants will score an average of 3 or better on a scale of 0 to 4.
Learning Outcome: Students (Who) who take a cooking class (Program) at the FRESH Basic Needs Hub will learn how to cook two fast, inexpensive meals and will be given recipes for them (What Learned).
Benchmark: At the end of the cooking demonstration, students will take a quiz about the cooking techniques employed and 85% will score at least 8 out of 10 correct. [This is “direct evidence” and uses post tests only.]
Alternative Benchmark: 90% of students will state on an evaluation form immediately following the cooking class that they now feel more able to cook for themselves than they did prior to the workshop. Also, 80% will report that they now expect to cook at least ___ meals per week for themselves. [Indirect evidence.]
Another Alternative Benchmark: Two months after the cooking class, in a followup survey, at least 80% of participants will report that they now cook at least 20% more of their meals than they reported when at the cooking demonstration.
Another Alternative Benchmark: Two months after the workshop, in a followup survey, at least 75% of participants will report that they now cook at least 50% of their meals (as opposed to restaurants, takeout, or frozen meals).