Student Learning Outcomes

When people complain about the time assessment takes, they may be thinking of Student Learning Outcomes (henceforth: SLOs). If you do not have a readily available abstract thinker (easily recognizable by their amazing ability to walk into solid objects and get lost on campus) AND you are not one yourself, then we have these helpful steps:

1. Complete the following phrase:
“When they complete our program, students will be able to . . .”

(Barbara Walvoord, Assessment Clear and Simple)

Or, if you prefer:

Students will <<action verb>> <<something>>


One of the biggest pitfalls is creating SLOs that are not assessable. Here are some phrases to avoid:

be aware of

have an awareness of

be conversant with

be familiar with

display a broad and full grasp of

develop awareness (understanding)

have a (firm) grasp of

have a (an in-depth) knowledge of

be prepared for a variety of

have a (good) sense of


have an (a broad) understanding of

They sound pretty on paper, but you won’t be able to measure them. So, here is a list of assessable action verbs to use as a reference, when creating SLOs.


Last, but not least, don’t go crazy. You do not need 15 SLOs. Realistically, your program should have about five (give or take a couple…not ten, but a couple). You are only going to assess one SLO each year, so if you and your colleagues can only agree on one SLO, that is okay.


If you are still stuck at square one waiting for inspiration to strike (or strike down an argumentative colleague…), then we recommend stealing outcomes:



If none of the aforementioned has helped and you really think you just need some intervention, then contact us about our peer consulting program. Consultants are here to help you with any aspect of programmatic assessment, including, but not limited to, the creation of SLOs.