SLO Vocabulary


ASCCC SLO Terminology Glossary


Objectives are small steps that lead toward a goal, for instance the discrete course content that faculty cover within a discipline. Objectives are usually more numerous and create a framework for the overarching student learning outcomes which address synthesizing, evaluating and analyzing many of the objectives.

Educational Program

In Title 5 §55000(g), a "Program" is defined as a cohesive set of courses that result in a certificate or degree. However, in Program Review, colleges often define programs to include specific disciplines. A program may refer to student service programs and administrative units, as well.

Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes (SLOs) are the specific observable or measurable results that are expected subsequent to a learning experience. These outcomes may involve knowledge (cognitive), skills (behavioral), or attitudes (affective) that provide evidence that learning has occurred as a result of a specified course, program activity, or process. An SLO refers to an overarching outcome for a course, program, degree or certificate, or student services area (such as the library). SLOs describe a student’s ability to synthesize many discreet skills using higher level thinking skills and to produce something that asks them to apply what they’ve learned. SLOs usually encompass a gathering together of smaller discrete objectives (see definition on previous page) through analysis, evaluation and synthesis into more sophisticated skills and abilities.

Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (ISLOs)

Institutional Learning Outcomes are the knowledge, skills, and abilities a student is expected to leave an institution with as a result of a student’s total experience. Because GE Outcomes represent a common core of outcomes for the majority of students transferring or receiving degrees, some but not all, institutions equate these with ILO’s. ILOs may differ from GE SLOs in that institutional outcomes may include outcomes relating to institutional effectiveness (degrees, transfers, productivity) in addition to learning outcomes. Descriptions of ILOs should include dialog about instructional and student service outcomes.

Core Competencies

Core competencies are the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in complex ways that require multiple elements of learning which are acquired during a student’s course of study at an institution. Statements regarding core competencies speak to the intended results of student learning experiences across courses, programs, and degrees. Core competencies describe critical, measurable life abilities and provide unifying, overarching purpose for a broad spectrum of individual learning experiences. Descriptions of core competencies should include dialog about instructional and student service competencies. See also Institutional Learning Outcomes.

Embedded assessment

Embedded assessment occurs within the regular class or curricular activity. Class assignments linked to student learning outcomes through primary trait analysis serve as grading and assessment instruments (i.e., common test questions, CATs, projects or writing assignments). Specific questions can be embedded on exams in classes across courses, departments, programs, or the institution. Embedded assessment can provide formative information for pedagogical improvement and student learning needs.

General Education Student Learning Outcomes.

GE SLOs are the knowledge, skills, and abilities a student is expected to be able to demonstrate following a program of courses designed to provide the student with a common core of knowledge consistent with a liberally educated or literate citizen. Some colleges refer to these as core competencies, while others consider general education a program.


Alignment is the process of analyzing how explicit criteria line up or build upon one another within a particular learning pathway. When dealing with outcomes and assessment, it is important to determine that course outcomes align or match up with program outcomes; that institutional outcomes align with the college mission and vision. In student services, alignment of services includes things like aligning financial aid deadlines and instructional calendars.



ACCJC SLO Terminology Glossary

Educational Program

The sequence of courses leading to a degree or certificate, such as the "liberal arts/transfer program" or the "nursing program," or the sequence of courses or learning activities leading to intellectual mastery, such as the Basic Skills course sequence leading to college readiness, the lifelong learning course sequence that enhances career and job skill set, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes

The knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that a student has attained at the end (or as a result) of his or her engagement in a particular set of collegiate experiences.