Guiding Principles for SLO Assessment

Accreditation and SLO Committee

The assessment of student learning outcomes (SLOs) is a curricular activity that can be both beneficial and productive. Faculty who engage in SLO development and assessment can acquire concrete evidence upon which to base the collegial review of their programs and the improvement and enhancement of student learning both in individual classes and across a program. If SLO processes are integrated into the culture of the college, the use of assessment data as a basis for decision making can empower the faculty voice in planning and budgeting discussions.
Despite these potential benefits from SLO activities, many California community colleges have struggled to develop and implement effective assessment processes. Pressure from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and its 2012 deadline for SLO proficiency has further complicated this issue, causing many colleges and faculty to think of SLO assessment only as a quantitative task to complete for accreditation purposes rather than focusing on the quality of their assessment activities. In Spring 2008, Academic Senate Resolution 2.03 called for providing guidance regarding best practices in SLO assessment that could be applied at the local college level. This paper is a response to that resolution.
The goal of this paper is to suggest principles that will help faculty to develop efficient and effective SLO assessment practices as appropriate for their own local colleges. These principles address various aspects of SLO assessment and factors that influence assessment processes, including institutional support, cooperative relationships with other faculty, researchers, and administrations, and alignment of outcomes throughout the different levels of the college curriculum. Above all, the paper promotes and emphasizes the primary role of faculty in all SLO development and assessment activities and the importance of faculty participation and involvement in the development and implementation of assessment processes.