History of Student Learning Outcomes

League for Innovation's
21st Century Learning Outcomes Project

History of Foothill's Student Learning Outcomes Development
In Fall quarter of 2000, Foothill became part of the League for Innovation's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project, a three year project focused on the meaning of an associate degree, SCANS competencies, and what knowledge, skills, and abilities graduates should have in order to succeed in the 21st Century. Foothill's Opening Day Ceremony, in Fall quarter of 2000 also focused on these topics as did Foothill's College Curriculum Committee in Winter quarter of 2000. The goal of these activities was to bring about the necessary curriculum transformations to truly prepare all students for the societal, technical, and workforce changes predicted to occur in the near future and beyond. To accomplish this goal, Foothill was looking to ensure that an appropriate mix of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) were taught in the approved degree, certificate, and transfer programs. Students need a balanced exposure to discipline specific technical skills as well as the core competencies that make up the SLOs such as communication, computation, community skills, ability to think, personal/interpersonal skills, and technology skills.

Foothill utilized existing participatory governance structures and other appropriate committees including the Division Curriculum Committees, College Curriculum Committee (CCC), General Education Review Committee (GERC), Institutional Planning Committee (IPC), Academic Senate, Planning and Resource Council, Deans Council, and Associated Students of Foothill College (ASFC). Program Advisory Boards, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Workforce Silicon Valley, Regional Articulation Council, and other appropriate community groups also provided critical information as to the expectations of business and transfer universities.

Assessment measures for this project would have been very difficult for any one institution to undertake. A grant from the Pew Charitable Trust helped fund Foothill's participation in the League for Innovation's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project and allowed for a dynamic interaction and shared best practices with other participating community colleges from across the nation. To the extent practical, Foothill combined SLO assessments with the research required in the State's Partnership for Excellence (PFE) measures on Student Success. This project was conducted over three years and divided into phases. These were:

Year One: 2000-01
Activity Focus: Define and Develop
The first phase focused on defining the SLOs that students should possess after earning an associate degree from Foothill. To frame the conversation, materials from Foothill's General Education Handbook, Mission Statement, and 2005 Educational Master Plan (2005 EMP) were combined with information from the League for Innovation's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project, the Joint Venture Silicon Valley adaptation of SCANS core competencies, and best practice case studies found at other institutions of higher education.

Preliminary work by Foothill's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Steering Committee indicated a close alignment between existing GE requirements, the League's defined eight core skills, and the SCANS standards already under discussion.

All College
The groups primarily responsible for an institution wide initiative were the CCC and GERC in collaboration with the Academic Senate, President's Roundtable, Deans Council, and other appropriate participatory governance committees.

By Spring quarter of 2001, a retreat, College Hour forum, and related staff development workshops were conducted to:

  • Consolidate the original eight League for Innovation competencies into four core competencies (4-Cs) in addition to discipline specific outcomes. These 4-Cs and discipline specific competencies are called Foothill Student Learning Outcomes.
  • Develop curriculum standards for course outlines linking SLOs, content, and method of evaluation.
  • Coordinate with the Academic Division Committees on the required revisions to course outlines.
  • Review and approve courses meeting the SLOs on the GE requirement list to ensure all areas are covered.
  • Rewrite the degree requirements for the 2002 college catalog.
  • Explore multiple methods for outcomes assessment related to student success (course completion, degrees and certificates awarded, and advancement in basic skills) as stated in the 2005 EMP and PFE goals.
  • Review assessment activities from other institutions in the League for Innovation's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project for adoption at Foothill.

Workforce Development Programs
The groups primarily responsible for Workforce Development Programs were the Workforce Education Advisory Group, Program Advisory Boards, and Division Curriculum Committees.

By Winter quarter of 2001, the Workforce Development Programs had:

  • Participated in the development of SLOs for the GE requirements for college and degrees or certificates.
  • Developed program-appropriate learning outcomes, level of performance, indices of student work for each level, and assessments to measure achievement appropriate to workforce development programs.
  • Launched Computer Technology Information Systems Division pilot program to implement curriculum reforms around the SLOs and explored multiple methods for outcomes assessment related to workforce development as stated in the 2005 EMP and PFE goals.

Transfer Programs
The groups primarily responsible for transfer programs were the CCC, GERC, and Academic Divisions.

By Winter quarter of 2001, the Transfer Programs had:

  • Established SLOs and related behaviors for all college degrees.
  • Adopted curriculum SLOs for all college degrees.
  • Launched Language Arts Division pilot program to implement curriculum reforms around the SLOs and explored multiple measures for achieving standards related to transfer, as stated in the 2005 EMP and PFE goals.

Year Two: 2001-02
Activity Focus: Implementation and Assessment
In 2001-02, the activities focused on extending Foothill's SLOs to the entire campus. Assessment of student learning was expanded utilizing the research method findings of year one. Modification of multiple measures was developed as needed.

The groups primarily responsible for the implementation and assessment was the CCC, GERC, Division Curriculum Committees, Staff Development, and IPC.

By Winter quarter of 2002:

  • As part of the State-mandated Title 5 curriculum review and update, all divisions were required to include discipline-appropriate SLOs in the expected outcomes and to link to content, method, and evaluation. Courses approved to meet Foothill's GE requirement were reviewed to ensure that all of Foothill's SLOs were included. Courses not complying with Foothill's SLOs were deleted from the approved list of courses until they were brought into compliance.
  • Staff development workshops were presented to assist full- and part-time faculty adjust to instructional method, content, activities, and method of evaluation in order to ensure Foothill's SLOs were being represented.
  • Implementation strategies and best practices from other colleges involved in the League for Innovation's 21st Century Learning Outcome Project were reviewed for adaptation at Foothill.
  • Assessment of student achievement was expanded to the entire campus utilizing those measures tested in year one. Measures were implemented that were proven to be meaningful and could be completed with the resources available in the district.

Year Three: 2002-03
Activity Focus: Documentation and Dissemination
Based on data collected in the multiple measures of student achievement research, Foothill documented its performance in the areas of student success. These measures included changes in the rate of:

  • course completion
  • degrees & certificates granted
  • advancement in basic skills courses
  • workforce development standards including student and employer satisfaction surveys
  • student self-assessment

The findings of this research were shared with the Research and Planning Group within California as all of the community college system searched for appropriate and meaningful measures as part of the PFE funding program.

Foothill participated in the League for Innovation's discussion of documentation beyond traditional grades, credits, and degrees. Such activities included an electronic variation of transcripts, portfolios, and other means of recording SLOs.

Dissemination of the findings of this project occurred through traditional and online publication, conference presentations, and college self-evaluation for the 2005 accreditation self-study.

Years Four & Five: 2003 to 2005
Activity Focus: Review and Modification

The 21st Century Learning Outcomes Steering Committee ended in Spring quarter of 2003 when the League for Innovation grant ceased. A new group was formed to build on the original work of the League for Innovation's 21st Century Learning Outcomes Project. This group is called the Learning Outcomes Assessment Network (LOAN). The LOAN group had several main functions:

  • review and modification of the SLOs expected of all Foothill graduates
  • SLO documentation via e-Portfolios and other program innovations
  • ensure integration of the 4-Cs while improving instruction
  • ensure visibility of SLOs at the course, program, and institutional levels
  • develop meaningful SLO assessment methods

In Spring 2005, it was collectively agreed that LOAN had served its purpose as a learning think tank and had accomplished many important tasks related to learning outcomes including implementing SLOs at the institutional, program, and course levels. The tasks and momentum of the LOAN group have been appropriately absorbed by the Academic Senate (AS), the College Curriculum Committee (CCC), the Program Planning Committee (PPC), Foothill's Rubric Assessment Model for Evaluating SLOs (FRAMES) group, and the Scholarship of Universal Learning (SOUL) group.