Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) occur at three levels:

  • CSLOs (Course Student Learning Outcomes) - describe the knowledge and skills students develop by the end of a course (this page)
  • PSLOs (Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes) - describe the knowledge and skills students develop by the end of a degree or certification program
  • ISLOs (Institutional Student Learning Outcomes) - describe knowledge, skill, abilities, and attitudes that students develop from all aspects of their college experience including courses, programs, departments, and services

Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes (CSLOs) describe the knowledge and skills that students are expected to develop by the end of the course because of instruction. Each CSLOs should answer the question: What will students do by the end of the course?

Why do CSLOs matter?

  • CSLOs tell students the skills and competencies expected to acquire and demonstrate in the course.
  • CSLOs are a planning tool for course design and a guide for selecting instructional activities.
  • Because all sections of a given course use identical CSLOs, they can be used in the creation of common course assessments.
  • SLOs are the tool for institutional assessment and accreditation.

How to create clear and effective CSLOs?

  • CSLOs should be developed/revised by a team of faculty.
  • CSLOs should be written using action verbs that describe observable, measurable behaviors. (Bloom’s Taxonomy)
  • CSLOs should be related to academic discipline.
  • CSLOs should be concise.
  • CSLOs should follow a format: Students will be able to ____

SMARTER framework can be a checklist for CSLOs

  1. Specific (focus on concrete outcomes that are transparent to students)
  2. Measurable (identify criteria that inform how progress/ growth will be measured for students)
  3. Attainable (realistic and clear to the student what is expected)
  4. Relevant (students can see the connection to course content)
  5. Time-bound (students can complete it in a time limit that is given)
  6. Equitable (it reaches all students abilities)
  7. Rewarding (it is relevant and meaningful to students)


Poorly written/designed examples:
(Terms such as know, understand, learn, appreciate are generally not specific enough to be measurable)

  1. Students will learn how to develop a well-designed argument.
  2. Students will develop an appreciation for the system approach of Earth Science studies.
  3. Students will organize and develop well-designed arguments, locate supporting evidence, and analyze others’ arguments using relevant theories of communication.

Well written revisions:

  1. Students will identify an issue, develop an arguable thesis about the issue, locate relevant supporting evidence, analyze the evidence, and draw a well-supported conclusion.
  2. Students will explain how the earth is a complex system consisting of a geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, each of which influences each other.
  3. (Number 3 above is too complex to be easily assessed and should be split into two SLOs)
    1. Students will develop well-designed arguments by locating supporting evidence.
    2. Students will analyze others’ arguments using relevant theories of communication.