Learning Outcomes

Welcome to the Learning Outcomes homepage. Our goal is to assist academic programs and faculty with discovering ways to productively use assessment data to inform and strengthen student learning and achievement at South Texas College.

Our department promotes student success and achievement through the belief that student learning is the responsibility of the entire institution. We support a cycle of continuous program improvement by assisting academic departments to develop and assess student learning outcomes, ensuring maintenance and collection of accurate assessment data, and providing training. This website provides learning outcomes assessment information to assist you with enhancing student learning and success.

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail or contact us.

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Timeline to Submit

Term Deadlines
Fall 2017 December 18, 2017 - STC Adjunct & Dual Enrollment Faculty
January 31, 2018 - STC Full Time Faculty
Spring 2018 May 14, 2018 – STC Adjunct & Dual Enrollment Faculty
May 31, 2018 - STC Full Time Faculty
Summer I 2018 July 9, 2018 – STC Adjunct & Dual Enrollment Faculty
August 31, 2018 – STC Full Time Faculty
Summer II & III 2018 August 13, 2018 – STC Adjunct & Dual Enrollment Faculty
August 31, 2018 – STC Full Time Faculty

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

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Assessment Resources


Frequently Asked Questions on Learning Outcomes Assessment

1.) What is Assessment?

The word "assessment" has taken on a variety of meaning of meanings in higher education. The word can refer to the process faculty use to grade student course assignments, to standardized testing imposed on institutions as part of increased pressure for external accountability, or to any activity designed to collect information on the success of a program, course, or college or university curriculum. All these uses, unfortunately, moved us away from the main role assessment should play in educational institutions - the role of gathering information to improve institutional practices. Therefore, a good definition for assessment is: Assessment is the systematic collection and analysis of information to improve student learning at all levels of the institution.

2.) What is Student Learning Outcomes Assessment?

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment is a systematic and ongoing process of gathering and interpreting information to discover if students, faculty, and staff are meeting the intended outcomes of a program, course, and/or service. The results are then used to enhance and improve the specific program, course, and/or service at the student, faculty, and/or department level.

3.) Why Assess to Improve Student Learning?

The fact is that faculty assess all the time in their classes. They are constantly considering what worked well and what didn't, and using those observations and impressions to make changes in their curriculum. What student learning outcomes assessment does is make those informal observations more systematic, meaningful, and more public.

4.) What are some potential benefits of Student Learning Outcomes Assessment?

Because student learning outcomes assessment rests largely in the hands of faculty:

  • Faculty can design instruction to target the knowledge and skill levels students should have upon finishing a course and better determine the levels of thinking or reasoning appropriate for the course.
  • Faculty can engage in more productive conversations about the status of student achievement and make better decisions about how it might be improved.
  • Faculty can make reliable decisions about innovations or experimental projects in instruction and share successes more easily.
  • Faculty can become the primary decision-makers in regard to setting learning outcomes, identifying processes for assessing them, determining whether they have been reached, and recommending future directions.

5.) What is Course Learning Outcomes Assessment?

Course learning outcomes assessment refers to methods to assess student learning within the classroom environment, using course learning outcomes, core objectives, and content to gauge the extent of the learning that is taking place. Course learning outcomes assessment makes the learning process more effective and consistent by systematically linking assignments, course structure and grading practices to intended course learning outcomes. This helps instructors become better teachers by offering specific feedback on what is working or not working in their classrooms; and provides systematic feedback to student about their own learning progress.

6.) What Are Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)?

Course learning outcomes are the intended outcomes of a specific course; In other words, is what a student who passes a specific course needs to know and/or do after the educational experience.

7.) What Are Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)?

Program learning outcomes are the intended outcomes of a specific degree, certificate, marketable skill, and emphasis. They are what a student in a specific program must know by the time they graduate or complete the program.

8.) What is Program Learning Outcomes Assessment?

Program Learning Outcomes Assessment should have at least one of three major purposes in mind: to improve, to inform, and/or to prove. The results from a program learning outcomes process should provide information that can be used to determine whether or not the intended outcomes are being achieved and how the programs can be improved. The PLO assessment process should also be designed to inform departmental faculty and other decision-makers about relevant issues that can impact the program and student learning.

9.) What are the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation that stipulate the use of assessment for improvement?

SACSCOC Principle of Accreditation

  • 3.3.1 The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: (Institutional Effectiveness)
  • 3.3.1.1 educational programs, to include student learning outcomes
  • 3.5.1 The institution identifies college-level general education competencies and the extent to which students have attained them. (General education competencies)

10.) What does THECB say about assessment?

THECB Rule Chapter 4, Sub-Chapter B, Rule 4.30

Each public institution of higher education shall evaluate its core curriculum through the assessment of the core objectives on an ongoing basis, reporting the results of the assessment to the Board every ten years on the schedule that accords with the institution's accreditation reaffirmation self-study report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or its successor. The evaluation and report must include:

  1. a description of the assessment process for each of the six core objectives;
  2. an explanation of measures, methodology, frequency and the timeline of assessment activities;
  3. the criteria and/or targets used to benchmark the attainment of the six core objectives;
  4. the results of the assessment, including evidence of the level of attainment targeted and achieved for each of the six core objectives;
  5. an analysis of the results, including an interpretation of assessment information; and
  6. any actions planned, including how the results and analysis of the assessment process will be used to improve student learning and achievement.

11.) What is the difference between assessment and grading?

When the topic of course learning outcomes assessment is raised, faculty often say, "I already do assessment. I grade student assignments." Grades are indeed one measure of student achievement. However, there are significant drawbacks to using grades to meet assessment's primary goal - to improve teaching and learning.

Assessment links student performance to specific learning outcomes in order to provide useful feedback to the instructor and students about how successfully students are meeting these outcomes. Traditional grading, which offers one "score" to represent the sum total of students' performance across a whole host of outcomes, does not provide the detailed and specific information necessary for linking student performance to improvement. Because grades don't tell you about student performance on individual or specific learning outcomes, they provide little information on the overall success of your course in helping students attain the specific and distinct learning objectives of interest.