All courses should have 3-6 main outcomes that answer the question: What should a student know, or be able to do, by the end of this course?

As mentioned in the previous section, SLOs apply to introductory courses on a number of levels

  1. All LASC-approved courses address overarching LASC outcomes.
  2. All our 100-level courses are approved for various Content Area categories in LASC and must meet those outcomes for which they were approved (see Course-Specific Resources).
  3. As a department we have outcomes for our major / minor programs, with which intro courses should align.
  4. Since intro-level courses here are similar to those elsewhere, outcomes were developed within the state public higher-ed system by a faculty team to help ease portability of transfer students’ courses. We are not *required* to adopt them word-for-word, but they provide a helpful template and can be adapted for or imported directly into your course if desired. See MassTransfer Pathways SLOs.

A well-written Student Learning Outcome conveys in one sentence a specific, measurable *student* performance level. It should contain a strong verb. At WSU, “understand” or “appreciate” are not considered strong SLO verbs. Verbs chosen off the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy are preferable. For intro-level courses, the verbs at the lower end of cognitive sophistication may be more appropriate.

For example, “This course will cover the history of the United States from 1877-present” is not a good student learning outcome because it simply describes what the instructor or course will accomplish.

“Students will appreciate the role of the federal government in the development of American political institutions” is not a good student learning outcome, because how would one measure “appreciation”?

An example of a measurable student outcome is “Explain processes of modification and interpretation of the US and MA Constitutions in the period 1877-present.”

SLOs drawn from our recent / current 100-level syllabi are provided on the Course Specific Resources page.

Test an SLO

Here is an example of a course description and objectives from Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland.

Ask yourself: Are these measurable? Realistic? Appropriately leveled for an intro course?

US History I Course Description:

After completion of this course, students will be able to describe the major political, diplomatic, economic, and social developments from the fifteenth century through the Reconstruction period. In particular, students will study the European, African, and Native American cultures of pre-Revolutionary America; the American Revolution and the development of American republicanism; the Transportation Revolution and the emergence of a market economy; territorial expansion and wars; 1783-1860; antebellum reformers; Civil War, 1861-1865; and Reconstruction, 1865- 1877.

Course Objectives:

1. Engage in an exploration of early American worldviews and their relationship with non-American worldviews.

2. Describe early American cultures and values, views on human nature, aesthetics, and ethics in a reflective manner.

3. Identify and explain the numerous different early American perspectives and how they impacted both American and non-American development.

4. Analyze events in early American history within a global context from economic, political, environmental, aesthetic, social, and ethical perspectives.

5. Formulate specific, unified, and concise theses through writing that demonstrate an understanding of historical thinking.

Return to Course and Syllabus Design

Next Module: Textbooks and Readings