What is the SLO Assessment Process?

“Assessment is the ongoing process of:
• Establishing clear, measurable expected outcomes of student learning
• Ensuring that students have sufficient opportunities to achieve those outcomes
• Systematically gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to determine how well student learning matches our expectations
• Using the resulting information to understand and improve student learning.”
(Linda Suskie, Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, p. 3.)

The SLO Cycle

SLO assessment is a process to determine whether or not a group of students has acquired the intended skills, knowledge, abilities, or attitudes from a course, program, or institution. The purpose of the assessment process is to use the assessment data to create more effective courses, programs, or institutions. 

Within a 3-year cycle, courses should be:
• Assessed
• The data from those assessments should be analyzed by departments
• An action plan to address learning challenges or expand best practices should be developed and implemented
• Follow-up assessments and analysis should be conducted, if necessary

The Assessment Loop is a series of steps that a department or program will take to accomplish this goal. The assessment loop usually involves 5 steps (Figure 1):

• Developing student learning outcomes
• Determining a plan to assess
• Assessing what students learned
• Analyzing and interpreting data
• Utilizing data to improve learning

Figure 1. The SLO process


Closing the Loop?

“Closing the loop” is the most critical part of the SLO process. It occurs when results are used to improve student learning. This is accomplished after faculty have spent time collecting and reflecting on data, engaging in discussions about how to improve teaching and learning, creating a plan to improve teaching and learning, and then implementing that plan. It is why we assess.