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Learning Outcomes and Assessment

New 3-Year Assessment Cycle

Based on the Teaching, Learning and Assessment (TLA) coaches’ recommendation, in May 2017, the Academic Senate adopted a new assessment cycle in which all active courses will now be assessed on a three-year cycle. The Academic Senate resolution, Revision to the Assessment Cycle of Course and Program Student Learning Outcomes, can be found on the Academic Senate Resolutions page.

Learning outcomes exist at the course, program and institutional levels.

  • Course-level learning outcomes are often referred to as student learning outcomes (SLOs) which are measureable statements that define the specific knowledge, skills attitudes and habits of mind that we expect our students to master upon completion of our courses. 
  • Program-level learning outcomes (PLOs) are measureable statements that define the specific knowledge, skills attitudes and habits of mind that we expect our students to master upon completion of our programs.
  • Institutional-level learning outcomes (ILOs) are measureable statements that define the specific knowledge, skills attitudes and habits of mind that we expect our students to master upon completion of their educational goal at our college.

It is mandated by ACCJC, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, that institutions engage in assessment, evaluation and reflection. Additionally, ACCJC states that institutions must systematically and regularly evaluate how well and in what ways it is accomplishing its purposes, including assessment of student learning. Faculty are responsible for assessing their courses (SLOs) and programs (PLOs) (ILOs on the other hand are mapped to SLOs and PLOs in TracDat and are assessed through other means via the College). Faculty may be asked to participate in assessing ILOs.

What do you need to know about the new 3-Year Assessment Plan?

  • All active courses must be assessed within each department. This excludes courses that are not offered due course cancellations, banked courses, and ones that have been deleted or newly added. However, if a course is cancelled and offered at another time, the course is considered active and must be included in your assessment plan.
  • The SLO(s) that will be assessed for each active course should be selected by the department. There are no requirements related to when and how many SLOs must be assessed per course so long as at least one is assessed when the course is up for review.
  • Although a course might be offered every semester throughout the 3-year cycle, the course only needs to be assessed at least once within the timeframe. Some departments may choose to assess a course more often, while others can choose to assess a course only once during the three years.
  • If a course is only offered once every year or two, the department’s assessment plan must reflect this. Make sure that the assessment plan reflects the department’s long-term course offerings. When a department updates when a course is offered, the 3-year assessment plan must also be updated.
  • As a department, when and which PLO should be assessed should also be indicated on the assessment plan. At least one PLO should be assessed within the 3-year cycle. One consideration may be to align the department’s PLOs plan with when the program review is due (e.g., fall before program review is due); this will allow each department to discuss and report on PLO results as it is one of the questions in program review.
  • All department 3-year assessment plans will be posted on the college’s assessment webpage.
  • All assessment results must be inputted to TracDat. Additionally, it is the department’s responsibility to update all SLOs in TracDat from Curricunet (unfortunately, these systems do not “talk” to each other) and make sure the course list is current. Should a department want to add or hide a course from TracDat, please contact our college’s Instructional Technologist, Allison Hughes (hughesa@smccd.edu or 650-306-3213).