Mission, Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

Program mission, goals and student learning outcomes

Mission Statement

A mission statement is a broad statement that communicates the vision, values and purpose of the program in a concise manner.  Mission statement defines what the program is, what it does, and who it serves.  It informs the stakeholders about the offerings of the program and how it aligns with the mission and vision of the college.  It overall speaks to the broad capabilities that are expected from its graduates as reflected in the curriculum. Mission statements may also include brief statements on the career possibilities for students and how the program prepares students to succeed in prospective higher education, life or career.

To write mission statement: 

Determine the following program components and then formulate them into a statement:

  • Name
  • Major Purpose
  • Key functions
  • Stakeholder (undergraduate students, graduate students)
  • How the program mission aligns with the college mission
  • Prospective of the major in terms of higher education, careers, etc.

Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

Program Goals are broad learning statements that simplify and breakdown what the program mission says it will do in terms of student learning.  Learning goals describe in broad terms the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that a program expects its students to achieve.  Goals serve as a framework to develop specific learning objectives/outcomes associated with each particular goal. 

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are specific measurable statements derived from program goals that indicate knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that a student is expected to attain upon completing the program, i.e. what has been learned.  The SLOs are the means to measure the stated program goal. 

To write program SLOs:

  • Review the program mission and program learning goals
  • Review the program curriculum and syllabus of individual courses
  • Think about existing graduates and current students enrolled in the program.  Have discussions among faculty and analyze as to what the program expects its students to have in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes upon program completion.
  • Review discipline specific associations. For example, for psychology major, review the learning outcomes for American Psychological Association, etc.
  • Remember SLOs are measurable and observable behaviors less broad than the program goals but not too specific to become course level learning outcome.
  • Refer to the Bloom’s Taxonomy as a resource
  • Use words that point to the specific actions, knowledge or skill acquired in context with the subject area that can be measured.      
    • To write the expected SLOs, begin with statement “students will be able to…” and use an action verb and an object.
    • The verb states action as per the cognitive process and the object describes knowledge students are expected to acquire (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001, pages 4-5 )
      • Example: Students will be able to explain the causes of unemployment and inflation.
      • Avoid the usage of vague verbs such as understand, know, appreciate, etc.
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives: Complete edition, New York : Longman.
Banta, Trudy W., and Catherine A. Palomba. Assessment Essentials : Planning, Implementing, and Improving Assessment in Higher Education, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/yorkcol-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1782543.
“UCF Academic Program Assessment Handbook” University of Central Florida, ©2005, edition 2008, accessed October 2016 https://oeas.ucf.edu/doc/acad_assess_handbook.pdf
"Assessment Primer: Goals, Objectives and Outcomes”, UCONN, University of Connecticut Assessment webpage accessed October 2016 http://assessment.uconn.edu/assessment-primer/assessment-primer-goals-objectives-and-outcomes/
“How to Write Program Goals” UCONN, University of Connecticut, accessed October 2016. http://assessment.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1804/2016/06/HowToWriteGoals.pdf
“Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy”, CELT, Iowa State University, accessed April 2017 http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/effective-teaching-practices/revised-blooms-taxonomy