Course-level outcomes (CLOs) should be created in collaboration and through the consensus of the faculty teaching in that area. The outcomes should align with the course outline, assignments, and objectives of the course content.
Some things to consider when creating CLOs:
Some things to consider when creating program-level outcomes (PLOs):
When writing outcome statements, it is helpful to use verbs that are measurable, or which describe an observable action such as those verbs listed as part of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The more specific a verb, the clearer the outcome will be, thereby lessening the chance of faculty and student misinterpretation.
|Words Open to Many Interpretations||Words Open to Fewer Interpretations|
|To know||To write|
|To understand||To recite|
|To really understand||To identify|
|To appreciate||To sort|
|To full appreciate||To solve|
|To grasp the significance of||To construct|
|To enjoy||To compare|
|To believe||To contrast|
CLOs are distinct measures of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that students should acquire after completing the course succesfully. On the other hand, grades are inclusive of everything that happens in a course, including attendance.
Grades are holistic measures of multiple skills. Grades provide feedback to the student on their overall performance but do not pinpoint which skills need improvement.
SLOs [i.e., CLOs] are the skills that students acquire upon completion of a course. Grades reflect both mastery of subject matter as well as other specific course expectations such as participation and completion of work.
(Apigo, Baker, and Janio, 2020)
Grades are inclusive of everything that happens in the course. A grade provides an overall picture of how a student performed for the entirety of the course. A grade does not indicate how well or whether a student acquired various skills and concepts. Whereas grades are meant to be student-specific, CLOs are meant to be skill-specific.
(Degrees that Matter, pages 56–57)
The outcomes assessment process provides feedback on students’ learning specific skills, and pinpoint which skills need improvement.
(Sharing Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) [i.e., CLOs] With Your College Community, ASCCC, 2010)
Outcomes are typically broader and may be themed clusters of course objectives identified in the course outline of record (COR). Some practitioners believe outcomes are more student-centered than objectives, whereas objectives are more teacher-centered.
A course objective describes what a faculty member will cover in a course. Objectives are generally less broad than goals, and broader than CLOs. An analogy: Objectives are like the ingredients and the recipe; outcomes are the final product—the cake.
Examples of objectives:
An outcome is a detailed description of what students must be able to do at the conclusion of a course. The best outcomes will include a description of the conditions (i.e., “When given x, the student will be able to y”), and the acceptable performance level.
Editing outcomes statements may include minor changes where errors are corrected but content remains the same. These types of changes may have been initiated by the use of the Outcomes Template (PDF). Minor changes may include fixing:
Editing outcomes statements may include major changes which could necessitate creating a new outcomes set and making the old ones “obsolete.” These types of changes may have been initiated by changes in curriculum or program reviews during these cycles.
Major changes to outcomes statements require multiple steps including:
Mapping involves linking CLOs to their respective programs, degrees, and/or certificates. Mapping demonstrates a relationship between the building blocks within courses to the overall program or institution.
Each CLO needs to be mapped to (1) at least one PLO; and (2) at least one ILO.
Maps are utilized to ensure learning is strategically supported within courses and between courses and their respective programs, degrees, and/or certificates. Additionally mapping is applied to the ILOs (see section XIV) to link specific programs and general education requirements.
An example of course-level mapping to a degree or certificate:
|XYZ PLO||XYZ PLO Outcome 1||XYZ PLO Outcome 1||XYZ PLO Outcome 3|
|XYZ PLO Outcome 1||XYZ PLO Outcome 1||XYZ PLO Outcome 3|
* I: Introduced; D: Developed; M: Mastered
During curriculum revisions (five-year cycle), CLOs may be revised, and adjustments made to mapping.
During program reviews (six-year cycle), PLOs may be revised, and adjustments made to mapping.
Outcomes are mapped within Taskstream. Note: CLOs only need to be entered and mapped one time. Again, each CLO needs to be mapped to (1) at least one PLO; and (2) at least one ILO.