Make the Connections – Answers to FAQs
Santa Rosa Junior College has been involved in Student Learning Outcomes assessment since 2005, but such a large institution, the process has been complex and evolving. It’s natural that questions should arise. Take a look below and see if your question is listed below, and if not—or if you need a more detailed answer, or you just want to talk to a person!—don’t hesitate to contact the Student Learning Outcomes Coordinator.
- SLO Coordinator is available to work with Student Services staff and faculty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get help writing SLOs and entering them into the Course Outline of Record?
Read over the page called More About Writing Course SLOs. Then work with your department chair to determine who will be input into the CATS curriculum database. For support in any part of the process, contact one of the SLO Coordinators.
How do we assess our major? Unlike the CTE (occupational) programs, we can’t tell how many students in any single class are majors. It seems impossible to track them all down and come up with an assessment for our major SLOs.
Yes, given our limited time and resources, it is nearly impossible to directly assess the SLOs of some majors. You should instead assess the major cumulatively, or “from the bottom up.” Use the major’s program map (Word doc) to do this. The map indicates which courses relate to which SLOs of the major. When you’ve completed assessing the SLOs of all the courses, you have essentially assessed all the SLOs. This can be represented in the right hand column of the map, which lists the dates when the SLOs for each course were assessed. This may take several semesters, but the department’s progress towards assessment of the major can at least be documented on the form and in the PRPP.
Also, you do not have to document the assessment of every restricted elective course. A sample of two or three would be adequate. See the Certificate/Major Assessment page for more details.
How often do we have to assess a course?
There are several answers to this question, so you can choose the one most appropriate for your situation.
- Accreditation standards expect “a regular cycle of assessment” to be in place for all courses and programs. At SRJC, this would be about every 3-6 years, as represented in each department’s assessment plan and documented in the PRPP.
- A department may set its own cycle, such as formally assessing one SLO a semester until they all have assessment results, and then starting over. This regular cycle may take 2-5 semesters, depending on the course, and it allows a department to track patterns, maintain a sense of the course’s effectiveness, and monitor how any curriculum or external changes might affect student achievement of SLOs. This approach is manageable when instructors teaching the course use an “embedded” (existing) assignment or exam as the assessment tool.
- Sometimes the first assessment may reveal either flaws in the assessment process or results below expectations that need to be addressed. In this case, a course might be assessed the next semester or for several semesters as changes are made to either provide more accurate results or to change the instruction, curriculum, or other aspects of the course itself.
What exactly happens after I finish assessing a course? Does my report just go out into the ether?
It’s important that departments make the time and effort involved in assessment worthwhile by “closing the loop” after results are analyzed. The dialogue and actions in response to assessment results are an essential component of the assessment cycle.
What happens next depends on the assessment report’s conclusions and recommendations.
- If results demonstrate that students are achieving at a level at or better than expected, instructors can confirm effective practices and report them to the department at a meeting, workshop, or department newsletter or college publication.
- If results reveal some gaps in student learning, faculty teaching the course can discuss what changes might address this or if some research is necessary to diagnose the issues. Does the course need to change its emphasis? Should there be a prerequisite? Could certain concepts be presented in a different way? Often this kind of discussion and decisions about changes would be part of a department meeting or a department committee. Most likely, re-assessment would occur and results would be reported.
- A broader or more formal assessment that reflects student learning patterns or how the introduction of a new element to a course might lead to a PDA flex workshop so other faculty might use that information for their own teaching.
- A summary of the assessment, results, and faculty response could be submitted for the “Examples” page of this SLO Web site. Also, the upcoming SharePoint system for inputting SLO assessments will allow faculty some degree of access to view other departments’ assessment work.
What exactly is each instructional department supposed to be doing in terms of SLO assessment?
The overall College expectation is that every department’s plan for its “regular cycle of assessment” is underway. This is demonstrated by accomplishing the following:
Creating a plan that documents courses programs that have been assessed and will be assessed over a 3-6 year cycle. This plan is kept with the department’s records and is usually shared with the supervising administrator.
- Designating full-time faculty members to coordinate and/or conduct course assessments and determining which other instructors (full-time or part-time) will be involved in contributing data or other information.
- Completing an SLO report through the Project Learn SharePoint site at the end of the semester or academic year, according to the department plan. The form stays with department records and the supervising administrator is notified of its completion at the end of each semester.
- Recording the department’s progress towards assessing its courses, certificate(s), and major(s) in the PRPP.
What exactly needs to be turned in to the Supervising Administrator, and when?
The department chair informs the Supervising Administrator about the plan for course and certificate/major assessment. The final report of a department’s progress in its plan is submitted as part of the PRPP in the spring.
What exactly is the obligation of full-time faculty?
For some departments, this may mean that every full-time instructor is involved in an assessment every semester. For smaller departments with fewer courses that still need assessing, this may mean that only certain full-time faculty are involved each semester.
How are adjunct faculty involved?
Part-time faculty are invited to participate in SLO assessment with department support, but their involvement is entirely voluntary.
When will we be able to submit our assessment reports online?
The system for online reporting through SharePoint is available for use now at the Project Learn SharePoint site.
Where can I get more information?
Read through pages on this Web site for most of the basics. For further clarification or to consult about your specific questions, contact the SLO Coordinator.