Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes
Mapping SLO'S to Core Curriculum
Developing Your SLO's
Blooms Taxonomy, Original and Revised
Action Verbs
Sample Student Learning Outcomes
SAAC Evaluation Guidelines


What is a student learning outcome?

At UCCS, student learning outcomes are illustrative statements crafted by departmental faculty pinpointing measurable skills and knowledge domains that a student acquires or improves upon during their pursuit of a degree within a specific discipline at UCCS.  The purpose of the student learning outcome is to state what skill(s) or knowledge domains that a student will acquire competency in prior to completing a degree in your discipline. The Assurance of Student Learning process is focused on program level SLO's not course level SLO's. Although the premise remains the same at the course level and core course level, SLO's should correlate to program level SLO's.

What is the benefit of a student learning outcome?

At the certificate or degree level student learning outcomes/objectives provide:

  1. Focus on the skills and knowledge students are expected to gain competencies in upon completing required courses, prior to graduation for students and faculty.
  2. A common understanding/perspective of the program to the faculty as they structure their curriculum.
  3. Guidance for faculty as they design their courses, identifying and incorporating components within their course that correlate to the program level SLO's (keeping everyone focused on the same game plan).
Course level student learning outcomes provide:
  1. The ability for instructors to effectively design their course incorporating learning activities focused on the course level SLO's, because they will have stated prior to designing the course what students are expected to accomplish.
  2. Enable faculty to develop courses that are well-integrated with the curriculum.
  3. Enable students to focus on the course materials with the outcome in mind.

To Begin

WHAT THEY WILL LEARN: You can begin by creating a list of the skills, knowledge or mind sets you are expecting students to acquire.  As you develop your student learning outcomes please keep in mind that the acquisition of the skills/knowledge and related competency levels must be demonstrated at some point, so keep measurability in mind.

(suggestions below)
Teamwork/Collaboration               Statistics                           Literature Reviews
Oral Communication                      Problem Solving               Sustainability
Written Communication                  Economic Issues              Presentation Skills
Research Methods                         Environmental Issues
LEVEL OF LEARNING: Program level outcomes should specify skills/knowledge that a student preparing to graduate from the program is expected to have acquired.  Therefore, learning outcomes should be identifying advanced skills and knowledge appropriate for a graduating student, rather than basic/introductory skills/knowledge/understanding.

DEPTH OF LEARNING: You will want to consider the depth of learning you want the students to achieve.  Surface learning (memorization) versus deep learning (ability to understand, synthesize, apply and communicate knowledge or utilize skills). You may find that referring to Bloom's Taxonomy is useful.

CLARITY: When writing objectives, vague words and phrases should also be avoided, i.e. 'gain a good grasp of', 'are exposed to', 'acquire', 'have knowledge of', 'understand', 'be familiar with',  etc...  Instead use action verbs that are descriptive of what students will achieve.  The Action Verbs list may be useful to you at this point.

Sample sentences to get you started developing your student learning outcomes are below. It is useful to use the following leaders into your student learning outcomes, although the leaders do not have to be a part of your final outcome statement.  Sample action verbs are in parenthesis and available in the action verb list.

  • Our students will know how to: (define, recognize, select)____________________.
  • Senior students will be able to: (transform, illustrate, summarize)________________.
  • Our students will be able to: (predict, classify, modify)_______________________.
  • Graduating seniors will have acquired the skills necessary to: (differentiate, subdivide, research)_______________.
  • Our students will have the skills to: (problem solve, collaborate, critique)_______.
  • Nearing completion of their degree requirements students will be able to demonstrate the ability to: (recommend, invent, design, communicate)________________________________________________.
  • Our students will have the knowledge to: (critique, compare, recommend)______________________.

Bloom's Taxonomy

illustration source:; 2/19/2013

Although we refer faculty crafting student learning outcomes to Bloom's Taxonomy as they begin to brainstorm, please keep in mind that Bloom's Taxonomy is effective for demonstrating the cognitive process of learning overall as it is typically presented, however it is visually too hierarchical to reflect the complex process of learning for purposes of developing student learning outcomes.  The illustration above is closer to depicting the process as it actually occurs. The process is integrated in a repeating cycle of acquiring, comprehending, applying, evaluation, analysis, and creation of knowledge as the student moves through a program. Once a student reaches the pinnacle of learning in their final year, he or she should be able to demonstrate the appropriate level of competency in their discipline specific SLO's.  The cycle begins again as they move out of college, perhaps into graduate school or into professional employment situations.


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Revised January 2014