Developing an effective SLO/SUO

1.    Start with the Mission Statement

San Diego Miramar College's mission is to prepare students to succeed by providing quality instruction and services in an environment that supports and promotes success, diversity, inclusion, and equity with innovative programs and partnerships to facilitate student completion for degrees/certificates, transfer, workforce training, and/or career advancement.

2.     Ensure your Department Mission Statement is aligned with the College Mission Statement

3.    Review the Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (ISLO)

Miramar’s ISLOs were developed in consideration of the unique features and functions of the college as well as the AAC&U’s Essential Learning Outcomes, which originated as part of the AAC&U's Liberal Education and America's Promise campaign, designed to identify outcomes that prepare students for twenty-first-century challenges. 


ISLO 1: Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World

ISLO 2: Intellectual and Practical Skills, including
•    Communication
•    Critical Thinking
•    Problem Solving
•    Quantitative Literacy
•    Information Literacy

ISLO 3: Personal and Social Responsibility, including
•    Local and global civic knowledge and engagement
•    Intercultural knowledge and competence
•    Ethical reasoning and action
•    Foundations and skills for lifelong learning
•    Pursuit of high quality collegiate educational and extracurricular experiences
•    Successful navigation of the postsecondary education system to achieve educational goal(s)

ISLO 4: Integrative and Applied Learning, including
•    Synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general or specialized studies
•    Demonstration of applied skills required for the student’s chosen career field



4.     Develop your SLO/SUO - is it aligned and mapped to ISLO?  How is your SLO/SUO preparing students to succeed in a complex and dynamic world?  

What SLOs are NOT

Course goals
Course descriptions
Course topics
Course outlines
Descriptions of teaching techniques, learning activities, course processes or procedures


One method:  let’s work backwards…

Example:  A highly sought after skill in the workforce is innovation (aligned with ISLO4)
•    What can I do in my course so that I am teaching students to be innovative?

  • “This” will help you learn to be innovative (SLO) – identify “this”

•    “This” is how you will show me you learned to be innovative

  • Measure “this” – enlist the help of the Research Analyst on campus to help you identify ways to measure
  • Develop a rubric so you can assess level and provide feedback to students

•    Utilize the results to make programmatic changes (if needed)


Step by Step for Division of Instruction

  1. Identify the degrees and certificates offered through your department

  2. For each degree/certificate you have identified,

    1. What should students know and be able to do when they have earned a degree or certificate in preparation for transfer or career? (Program SLO mapped to ISLO)

      1. Which courses in your sequence for this degree/certificate address this knowledge and ability?  (Course SLO)

        1. Are courses in the sequence offered by other departments?  How are you communicating with them to work on Program SLO?

        2. Are your courses in other degree/certificate sequences?  Are you aware of the Program SLO?

      2. In these course sequences, where are students struggling?  (What data do we need  to figure this out?)

      3. What can we do to address the areas where students are struggling (if applicable)

      4. Who else needs this information?

      5. What do we need from other offices/programs to better support our students?

    2. How do we communicate program outcomes to our students?

    3. Where else can students apply what they have learned through your degree/certificate?

After identifying all of this, the next question is, "How do we know"?

  • Program SLO - graduate survey, alumni survey, employer survey?
  • Course SLO - what measures are we going to use?
    • Common assessment or multiple measures?

Our Research Office serves as a great resource to engage in discussions about how to best "measure" something, so visit them!  

Additional resources to developing an effective SLO
(Center for University Teaching, Learning and Assessment)

SLO Components:

S:  Specific
M: Measurable
A: Attainable/Appropriate/Action-Oriented
R:  Relevant/Realistic
T:  Time-Focused

Guidelines for Writing Effective Outcomes:


Instructional Guides

Instructional Support Services 

Student Services Division

Instructional Services Division

Additional Resources:


Evidence of Assessment