Aligning Curriculum with Student Learning Outcomes

Building the Program SLO Alignment Matrix

Once the learning goals and student learning outcomes (SLOs) are developed for the program, the next step in program assessment is to develop the program SLO alignment matrix. This matrix lists the goals and associated SLOs against the courses in the program. In each cell, the faculty identify where each SLO is introduced, practiced, or mastered.

The outcomes/course matrix can be used as the basis of the assessment plan. In later tasks the faculty and/or assessment coordinator can determine what student artifact or work sample (signature assignment) can be used to measure progress towards the SLO and/or when the assessment will take place. In addition, the matrix needs to be reviewed with respect to balance and omissions. Questions to ask at this point include the following:

  • Are there learning outcomes that are not associated with any course?
  • Are there courses that do not contribute to the achievement of any SLO?  (Why do we need these courses in our curriculum?)
  • Do we have appropriate levels of the desired performance associated with each SLO with respect to 1) introducing the learning outcome, and  2) practicing the learning outcome before mastery is expected?
  • Do we have a place where we can measure mastery within the context of the program for each SLO?
  • If answers to the above are “no,” what changes do we need in our curriculum to achieve the desired results?

Below are examples of SLO alignment matrices. Letters are used to represent where an SLO is introduced (I), practiced (P), or mastered (M). In some matrices a “D” is used instead of an “M” to indicate that in this course this SLO demonstrates mastery of the learning within the context of the program. Of course, mastery is defined in a similar way. In either case, the M or D level is where the student can demonstrate the highest level of achievement with respect to the stated SLO within the context of the program.

Example of a Course Alignment Matrix