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Instructional Outcomes


What is the Purpose of Course-Level Outcomes (CLOs) Assessment? 

When undertaken consistenetly and regularly, the outcomes assessment process facilitates:

  • Improving teaching and learning in a continuous cycle.
  • Gathering evidence of learning in support of institutional improvement.
  • Demonstrating to regional accrediting commissions, such as the ACCJC, that the institution is engaged in a continuous cycle of ensuring quality in its teaching and learning efforts.
What are the Outcomes Responsibilities for Full-Time and Part-Time Faculty Members?

Every faculty member—full- and part-time—is responsible for reporting on CLOs.

As stated in Section 5.3.8. of the Rio Hondo College Faculty Association Collective Bargaining Agreement,

“Faculty shall be responsible for listing student learning outcomes (SLOs) [i.e., CLOs] in their syllabi, for entering [CLO] assessment data in the appropriate software package, and for engaging in dialogue and writing assessment reports with other faculty for one semester each academic year. [CLO] data must be entered every year by June 30.”

Click or tap here to open Outcomes Due Dates (PDF).

How are CLOs Assessed?

Assessment tools vary between courses, but the tools should remain the same for different sections of the same course for the same outcome. Equitable assessment should be considered when developing tools.

Having multiple forms of assessment supports equity. For example, a written exam and an oral presentation for the same outcome would provide a balanced assessment of a student’s mastery of the material. Additionally, scaffolding assessment tools supports student learning. For example, starting with a low-point assessment tool of a discussion board, then progressing to a quiz before culminating in a final project allows time for student mastery of the material. (This approach would provide an instructor better understating of students’ weaknesses and strengths to make adjustments and improvements in the course.)

Although assessment tools may vary in type and number, proficiency standards should not. The class-level proficiency standard is the expected proficiency for the class, while the student-level proficiency standard is the standard for students to reach proficiency. Both benchmarks are decided at the departmental level through a process of faculty consensus. The proficiency standards for each course can be found in Taskstream within the “Measure” part of a course.

Snapshot of Taskstream Guide page

A snapshot from the Taskstream guide.


What is the Difference between CLOs and Grades?

CLOs are distinct measures of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that students should acquire as a result of completing a course sucessfully, whereas grades are inclusive of everything which happens in a course, including attendance. A grade provides an overall picture of how a student performed in the entirety of the course. It does not indicate how well a student obtained various skills and concepts. Whereas grades are meant to be student-specific, outcomes are meant to be skill-specific.

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.

(Sholars, 2009)

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)
What is the Difference Between Outcomes and Objectives?

An analogy: Objectives are like the ingredients and the recipe; outcomes are the final product—the cake. By way of understanding, let us begin with the latter:


Outcomes are typically broader and may be themed clusters of course objectives identified in the course outline of record (COR). An outcome is a detailed description of what students must be able to do at the conclusion of a course. It could contain multiple objectives.

Some practitioners believe outcomes are more student-centered than objectives, whereas objectives are more teacher-centered. 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.

Examples of outcomes:

  • “Provided with a dataset from the previous semester, students will successfully design a grounded research study based on the scientific method.”
  • “In a final research paper, students will appropriately utilize grammar and various literary devices.”
  • “Given an anonymous sample health history, students will devise a personalized exercise plan focused on reducing stress.”
  • “Presented with a non-functional computer, students will correctly identify the source of the problem and devise a plan to repair the device.”
  • “In a laboratory setting, students will demonstrate how to properly dispose of three kinds of biohazardous materials.”

Click or tap here to open the Course Outcomes Template (PDF).


A course objective describes what a faculty member will cover in a course. Objectives are generally less broad than goals, and broader than CLOs.

Examples of objectives:

  • “Students will gain an understanding of the origins of art history.”
  • “Students will read and analyze seminal works in twentieth-century American literature.”
  • “Students will study the major regulatory agencies.”
How Many CLOs are Needed for a Course?

There should be at least one outcome per unit of instruction, but generally, no more than three to five outcomes for a 3-unit course are required.

How Do I Log In and Enter CLO Assessment Data into the Local Assessment Management Software?

i. Taskstream

The College utilizes Taskstream to house and map outcomes statements, and the platform where faculty can enter their qualitive and quantitative course data as “Measures and Findings.” Taskstream can be accessed through AccessRio (under the “Faculty” tab), or through the planning pages of the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP).

  • If you need access to Taskstream, please contact the IT Help Desk and type “Taskstream” in the subject line.
  • If you need access to additional courses in Taskstream, please contact the IT Help Desk and list the needed courses in the comment box.

ii. Taskstream Quick Reference Guide

Click or tap here to open Taskstream Quick Reference Guide (PDF).

What Happens with CLO Assessment Data?

Outcome assessment data is reviewed, assessed, and reported during:

  • Close-the-loop dialogue (annually).
  • Program planning (annually).
  • Program reviews (six-year cycle).
  • Curriculum revisions (five-year cycle).

Click or tap here to vieew the Outcomes Process Cycles (PDF).

What are the Standards that Govern CLO Design and Assessment?

College standards are developed by the Outcomes Committee based on considerations of best practices in assessment design and ACCJC recommendations. All Outcomes recommendations are forwarded to Academic Senate for approval before being submitted to Planning and Fiscal Council (PFC) for campus-wide implementation.

How do CLOs, Program-Level Outcomes (PLOs), and Institutional-Level Outcomes (ILOs) Differ?

Course-level outcomes (CLOs) evaluate the outcomes for a course. Program-level outcomes (PLOs) cover an area or program and/or the certificates and degrees within that program. The outcomes for the College detail 17 institutional-level outcomes (ILOs) in five areas: critical thinking, communication, global awareness and ethical behavior, competency, information literacy, and personal and career goals. CLO, PLO, and ILO data is collected and assessed on different timelines. Outcomes timelines support planning, review, and curriculum cycles already in place.

 Data CollectionAssessment CycleRevision Timeline
CLOsCourse levelAnnualFive years
PLOsProgram levelSix yearsSix years
ILOsInstitutional levelAnnualAs needed
Are Outcomes a Part of Accreditation?

Yes. Faculty members’ ability to demonstrate that outcomes are identified and regularly assessed—and the results used to improve student learning—are key processes that will determine whether Rio Hondo College is an accredited institution. The importance of outcomes assessment is also underscored in the College’s Faculty Handbook:

Rio Hondo College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) through the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). As part of the college accreditation process, all courses and programs must have student learning outcomes (SLOs) identified and regularly assessed. The SLOs assessment process helps faculty members evaluate the knowledge and skills acquired by students through their participation in a course or academic program.

(Rio Hondo College Faculty Handbook, 2019–2020)

What is the Connection to Guided Pathways?

Outcomes are linked to the fourth pillar of Guided Pathways (“Ensure learning is happening ...”) as it connects coursework “with intentional outcomes.” Consideration of intentionality means thinking about intentional actions (i.e., the things people do) rather than any unintended outcomes that might occur as a result of a given practice or method.

  • Course-level outcomes (CLOs) are used to determine if students have mastered the course material.
  • Program-level outcomes (PLOs) are used to determine if students’ mastery is in line with the learning objectives and goals of the specific degree or certificate program.
  • Institutional-level outcomes (ILOs) are the overall objectives and learning goals of the College, and as such linked to CLOs.
What is Outcomes Assessment?

Assessment fosters greater improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved. Student learning is a campus-wide responsibility and assessment is a way of enacting that responsibility. Thus, while assessment efforts may start small, the aim over time is to involve people from across the educational community. Faculty play an especially important role, but assessment’s questions can’t be fully addressed without participation by student affairs educators, librarians, administrators, and students.

(Banta, Lund, Black, and Oblander, 1996)

Successful assessment is directed toward making improvements in students’ education. These improvements may occur in teaching, student learning, academic and support programs, or institutional effectiveness. Assessment information must be applied systematically toward improvements if assessment is to have a lasting impact on the institution.

Successful assessment techniques are adaptable, creative, reliable, accurate, and repeatable. Through the use of multiple methods, triangulation, and the measurement of performance and knowledge over time, effective assessment techniques can begin to capture and reflect the complex nature of learning.

Effective assessment practices should be utilized to inform the College’s many constituencies about the ways campus services and programs affect students and the community positively. In this way, assessment is an important component in demonstrating institutional accountability.

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