SLO Overview
What is a Student Learning Objective?


Student Learning Outcomes are statements of the overarching knowledge, skills, abilities, and/or values students should acquire in a course or program. These broad learning outcomes demonstrate core student understanding and application of a subject. As you create a new course or modify an existing course, notice the following hierarchy:

  • The synthesis of objectives build up to overarching course-level SLOs
  • The synthesis of course-level SLOs build up to overarching program-level SLOs

Differences Between and SLO and the Objectives 

Narrow course objectives represent valuable tools, skills, or content that enables a student to engage in a particular subject and assists the student in building toward and supporting their achievement of broader course-level student learning outcomes. The main difference between SLO statements and course objectives is that SLO statements demonstrate an overarching understanding or application of a core aspect of the course while objectives are the small pieces of subject matter, which build up to the broader SLO statements.

Sample Objectives
  • Distinguish between popular and scholarly works.
  • Critically select and evaluate information from discipline-specific reference resources.
  • Apply critical thinking to construct effective research methods, including defining a topic, mapping a search strategy, and using appropriate resources..
Sample Course SLO
  • Evaluate various information resources in accordance with identified research needs.
  • Sample Program SLO
  • Examine and compare information from various sources to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias.

Bloom’s Taxonomy 

Student Learning Outcomes should begin with a verb from Bloom’s Taxonomy. When creating or modifying an SLO, use verbs that measure the appropriate cognitive skills. Incorporate these skills into the course SLOs. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a categorization of verbs describing cognitive skills into six classes (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). The classes are ranked from least complex (knowledge) to most complex (evaluation) in terms of the level of thinking required for students to achieve these objectives. Critical thinking skills encompass only the three most complex categories (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation).