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Outcomes Assessment Committee (OAC)

Writing Course-Level SLOs


Before writing Course-Level SLOs (CSLOs), see Subjects and their related Program Pathway for a list of courses and be sure to have at least one CSLO that aligns closely with one of the Program Pathway SLOs (PSLOs).

When submitting a new course to the Valley College Curriculum Committee (VCCC), or modifying an existing course, you must include a CSLO Addendum, which will be evaluated based on how well it does the following:

  • Describes a behavior or skill beyond recitation or recall of content knowledge
  • Uses action verbs from Bloom's Taxonomy (Level 3 or higher)
  • Describes an overarching outcome rather than something minute; is global in scope
  • Describes a real-life skill that students will use beyond the end of the course or the program
  • Describes an outcome that can be assessed using a scoring rubric or some other method of evaluation (see below).

There are three parts to the CSLO Addendum:

  1. Course-Level Outcome (i.e., As a result of this course, what will students be able to do?)
  2. Assessment Activity (i.e., What will students do to show they have achieved the outcome?)
  3. Assessment Measure (i.e., How will instructors evaluate how well the students have done?)

Describing CSLOs

Start by looking at your syllabus to identify the course objectives and assessment tools you already use.  Then, identify the Program/Pathway SLOs (PSLOs) and choose those that are related to the course.  In most cases, courses should have "communication skills" and/or "reasoning skills" SLOs.  CSLOs document student learning that is already happening, which can be assessed using one of your existing assessment tools (e.g., reports, quizzes, exams).

Don't focus on content (i.e., the knowledge that students should gain from the course), but think about what students should be able to do with what they've learned (i.e., the skills they should develop as a result of the taking the course).  For example, they should be able to demonstrate what they have learned by explaining a concept (Communication Skill) or analyzing several aspects of a course topic in order to choose the most appropriate one for a given situation (Reasoning Skill).

Recommended Best Practices

  • Describe the broadest goals for the class (higher-level thinking).
  • Require students to synthesize many discreet skills or areas of content.
  • Ask students to produce something (a paper, project, portfolio, performance, etc.) that requires them to demonstrate one or more of the skills in the SLOs for the course.
  • Use action verbs and focus on what students can do.
  • Make sure the Course SLO aligns with other courses in a sequence, if applicable.

Practices to Avoid

  • Don't use the word understand, because students can't demonstrate this type of abstraction.  However, instructions like "compare two concepts from the course and identify which one would solve a particular problem" can be demonstrated and evaluated.
  • Don't make the outcome something that is difficult or impossible to assess.
  • Don't use student attitudes unless their attitudes are crucial to your course and you can figure out how to assess them.

Sample CSLOs

The following are examples of SLO statements. Those that are from Valley College are so noted. You can also look on the LAVC Curriculum Committee website to see the CSLOs that have been posted.

Forensic Anthropology:  Analyze skeletonized human remains to determine sex, age at death, height and genetic ancestry.
Microsoft Word: Analyze communication requirements and produce professional-quality business documents.
Journalism:  Construct visually attractive and readable newspaper pages.
Acting: Select, analyze and perform selections utilizing skills of memorization, vocal projection, spatial awareness, stage directions and physical expression.
Composition: Write an essay demonstrating academic rhetorical strategies and documentation.
Architectural Drawing: Develop a complete set of architectural drawings for a single-family dwelling. (LAVC)
Foreign Language 1:  Using the vocabulary and structures learned, perform elementary everyday communicative functions in the target language orally and in writing. (LAVC)

Describing Assessment Activities (Assessment Tools)

The main purpose of identifying a specific assessment tool is to make sure that it allows students to "demonstrate" the outcome being assessed. There must be a clear relationship between the assessment tool and the CSLO that will be assessed.

An assessment activity is also known as the assessment tool, and in some cases, the CSLO statement itself includes the assessment activity or identifies the assessment tool.  For example, "Write an essay demonstrating academic rhetorical strategies and documentation," clearly indicates that an essay will be used as the assessment tool.

However, in other cases, you must describe the activity the students will perform in order to demonstrate that they have mastered the SLO.

The examples below are provided as a guide.  Check with your department to make sure that you are using the most recent CSLO.


Example 1 (English 101):


Students will write focused, coherently organized, well-developed texts, appropriate to the transfer level, that effectively integrate, synthesize, and document sources.

Assessment Tool:

The final essay assignment in which students are instructed to complete the assignment on a particular topic using sources

Example 2 (Child Development 2):


Students will define the teacher's role in facilitating children's learning in the areas of physical, cognitive, emotional, language, creativity, and social domains of development.

Assessment Tool:

A class presentation in which students are instructed to define the teacher's role in facilitating children's learning in the areas of physical, cognitive, emotional, language, creativity, and social domains of development

Example 3 (Biology 33):


Students will analyze word roots, prefixes and suffixes in conjunction with anatomical terminology.

Assessment Tool:

The final exam in which students are instructed to answer questions related to word roots, prefixes and suffixes in conjunction with anatomical terminology; analyze various forms of word roots, prefixes and suffixes; and explain why certain forms are more effective

Example 4 (Art 111):


Students will be able to identify and describe visual examples of artworks characteristic of the period, culture or artist(s) characteristic of the material covered in this course, using appropriate vocabulary.

Assessment Tool:

The final report in which students are instructed to present various examples of contemporary art and             identify the cultural or artistic characteristics of the works using appropriate vocabulary and concepts from the course

Example 5 (Music 111):


Students will identify different elements of Western art music styles and place the music within historical and cultural contexts.

Assessment Tool:

The final exam in which students listen to several excerpts of representative pieces to identify different elements of Western art music styles and place the music within historical and cultural contexts

Assessment Measures–Rubrics

After you have identified what the students will do, you need to decide how faculty will measure student outcomes. Start by identifying the major traits that determine a successful outcome. Describe the criteria relating to the traits and create a checklist, rubric or set of performance descriptors. Make sure to set the criteria at the appropriate level of thinking (Bloom's taxonomy). Try out your assessment on student work and make appropriate modifications.

The level of collaboration needed for rubric creation depends on the number of sections for a course.   If the class is the only section of a course (e.g., English 208), you are free to develop your own rubric for the course.  If, however, the class is one of several sections of course (e.g., English 101, which has 33 sections), as many of the faculty who teach the course should be involved in the creation of the rubric.

Because of the complexities involved in creating a rubric, this subject is covered in a separate section of this manual.  Please see "Creating or Modifying Rubrics to Assess CSLOs" for more information.

Presenting the CSLO Addendum to Valley College Curriculum Committee:  The Assessment Checklist

Remember, the CSLO Addendum has three parts: Course-Level Outcome, Assessment Activity, and Assessment Measure.  When you submit your CSLOs to the Valley College Curriculum Committee (VCCC), they will be evaluated with a checklist consisting of the following related to the assessment tool/activity:

  • Is directly related to the CSLO and can realistically measure/document the outcome
  • Is specific enough to show how the CSLO is being assessed (e.g., it is not enough to simply write "exam" without showing how the exam will assess student learning)
  • Will produce and/or document evidence of student learning
  • Will produce manageable information and statistical knowledge
  • Is a realistic, feasible way of collecting and analyzing evidence
  • Can differentiate between different levels of achievement through the use of a rubric or other measure