Developing & Writing Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes

What are program-level student learning outcomes?

Student learning outcomes or SLO’s are statements that specify what students will know, be able to do or be able to demonstrate when they have completed or participated in a program/activity/course/project. Outcomes are usually expressed as knowledge, skills, attitudes or values.


What are the characteristics of good SLO’s?

Whether at the course- or program-level, SLO’s specify an action by the student that must beobservable, measurable and/or able to be demonstrated.

Check out these helpful links:

The Importance of Action Verbs

Examples of Well (and not so well) Written Program-level Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes vs. Goals and Personal Expectations***


How to get started writing program-level SLO’s

  1. Ask: What are the most important things a student should know, be able to do or demonstrate after completing my program?
  2. Make a list of these things and write them as SLO statements using the examples and hints provided below.
  3. Edit and review: refer to “How do I write a better student learning outcome?” Pay careful attention to the verbs used in your SLO’s (see above).
  4. Remember to provide SLOAA (e-mail to with a link to your Department’s SLO’s, which should be listed on each department web site.


Helpful hints

  • Work with one or two people to draft SLO’s, reviewing syllabi and incorporating different perspectives about what the program hopes to achieve through their designed and delivered curriculum.
  • Review/edit statements with others in your department/program.
  • Consult resources outside the department/program (e.g., e-mail Elaine Finan at SLOAA,
  • Focus on a small number of learning outcomes that are most relevant to your program.  Three to five may be plenty; however, individual department requirements may vary.
  • Don’t try to cover every domain.  Focus on domains that are most applicable to your department.
  • Be sure to specify any particular populations you may be assessing. For instance, departments may have some programs in which only certain students participate.
  • Clearly differentiate SLO’s (which are measure of what students have learned) from assessment of student satisfaction, program evaluation and purely process measures such as attendance.
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