Making Connections Between Courses and Programs of Study
There are three main stages in the process of assessing the outcomes of certificate and major SLOs.
- Stating and “mapping” SLOs for the certificate or major
- Listing the SLOs on the certificate or major webpage
- Assessing the SLOs
Identifying and assessing the SLOs for certificate and major programs of study are important for several reasons.
- Stating the SLOs on certificate and major webpages clearly shows students what skills and knowledge they will achieve through successful completion.
- The process of identifying the certificate and/or major SLOs allows discipline faculty to review and ensure the alignment of a program’s courses with the outcomes.
- Assessment of certificates and majors demonstrates the college’s success in meeting its mission regarding degree completion, transfer, and job preparedness.
- The college can demonstrate proficiency in meeting accreditation standards, specifically addressing, “Student learning outcomes and authentic assessment are in place for courses, programs, and degrees.”
Departments and disciplines with websites are encouraged to post certificate and major SLOs on their sites as another way of communicating those to students.
- Discipline faculty develop SLOs for the certificate or major. (Typical is 3-8 SLOs, depending on the extent of the program.)
Example: Restaurant Management Major SLOs
- Manage a restaurant to ensure compliance with safety and sanitation regulations.
- Apply background, culture and history of culinary arts and terminology in a food service business setting.
- Use basic math skills to accomplish cash management and labor and food costing.
- Exhibit, recognize, motivate and develop employee professionalism in a restaurant setting.
- State federal and state wage and labor laws.
- Faculty create a Program Map to show how courses relate to the SLOs of the certificate/major. Please see the Restaurant Management Major Map (PDF) for an example of how courses are “mapped” to the program outcomes.
Submission of Certificate/Major SLOs and Map
- Department accesses and completes “Certificate and Major Revision Form,” available under “Forms” on the Curriculum website, attaching the list of SLOs and Program Map. Electronic and hard copies are sent to department chair for signature.
- Department chair forwards hard copies and electronic versions of form, SLOs, and map to dean, who places them on Cluster Tech Review agenda.
- Cluster Tech Review Committee reviews SLOs for clarity and completeness and provides feedback as necessary to the submitting department. The Program Map accompanies the SLOs to illustrate the composition of the certificate or major, but this part is not reviewed by the CTRC.
- If needed, submitting department makes any recommended changes to SLOs and then sends to dean. The department should keep a copy of the SLOs and program map.
- After Cluster Tech Review, the dean submits the Certificate/Major revision form, finalized list of SLOs, and program map electronically and as hard copy to Jeff Shaver in the Curriculum Office.
- The certificate or major appears on the next available Curriculum Review Committee Consent Agenda for approval of revision, including SLOs. (The submitter does not need to attend the meeting.)
- After CRC approval, the Curriculum Office recommends the certificate/major revision for Board approval.
- After board approval, the Curriculum Office enters the SLOs on the Certificate/Major webpages.
Assessing Certificate, Major, and Pathway SLOs
There are three main ways to assess a certificate, major, or pathway. The department, discipline, or representatives of a Pathway program chooses the most appropriate method.
- Capstone course. Many CTE certificates and majors have a culminating course that requires students to demonstrate the highest levels of skill and concept application. The SLOs of a capstone course are often the same or very similar to the certificate or major SLOs. Therefore, when the course is assessed, the program is essentially assessed as well. More specifically, a capstone course may include a final project, an extensive research paper, a portfolio, performance, or other assignment that reflects all or most of the SLOs students are expected to achieve to earn the certificate or complete the major. This comprehensive assignment could be used to assess both the course and the certificate or major.
An example of a capstone course approach for assessing a major and certificate is available through the link below. The Diet Technician major/certificate program used a portfolio to assess student achievement in the culminating class and the program itself.
Diet Technician Certificate/Major SLO Assessment (PDF)
- External assessments. For a number of CTE certificates and majors, such as those in the Health Sciences and Public Safety, students who complete the certificate program must also pass a licensing exam or other test by an external agency. The SLOs of the program usually reflect those tested, so departments that receive reports of student scores may use the results of the exams to represent their studentsâ€™ achievement of the SLOs. The SLO report would summarize results and, to the degree indicated by the scores, areas the program might develop to improve or enhance student achievement.
- Cumulative, or “Ground Up.”This method may be most applicable for Liberal Arts and Sciences majors, which often do not have an identifiable cohort of majors, and for Pathway assessments (such as the Math Pathway), which involves hundreds of students across many sections every semester. This approach assumes that if the courses of a major or certificate address the program SLOs—as indicated in the Certificate or Major Map—then the certificate/major is considered assessed when all of its core courses and two or more representative restricted elective courses have been assessed.
To use this approach, a discipline must first complete the SLO assessments for the key courses in the certificate/major. Then, referring to the Certificate/Major Map and the results from the SLO assessments for each of those courses, discipline faculty would summarize the overall results and draw conclusions about student achievement. Links to the course assessments mentioned in the report can be created to provide specific information relating to the program assessment.
The Religious Studies major used this cumulative approach to assess the major—summarizing the results from the course of SLO assessments and determining the strengths of the program and areas that might be developed.
Religious Studies Major SLO Assessmen (PDF)
For further discussion on these approaches, you may view the PowerPoint presentation for the Spring 2013 PDA presentation, “Best Practices for Assessing Certificates, Majors, and Pathways” (PDF).
For assistance in identifying or assessing outcomes for programs, contact the Curriculum Technician (Programs)
- Adrienne Leihy, 707-521-7886 firstname.lastname@example.org