• Measuring SLOs: Connecting Out-of-Classroom Learning With Classroom Learning

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    May 28, 2014


    by Kevin Gaw

    This Issue’s Student Learning Outcome (SLO)

    Students can make and articulate the connections between classroom and out-of-classroom learning.

    What to Measure and Why

    This is a complex SLO as there is a lot to measure. In fact, when one considers all the factors that are involved, there is perhaps too much to measure for a straightforward SLO assessment.

    The core construct, from a career services perspective, seems to encompass the employability/transferrable skills and the application of specific classroom learning/knowledge to the real world of work and society. To be sure, one could also measure course concepts as applied to out-of-class situations, but this requires curricular knowledge typically well beyond a career center. Therefore, the strategy is to simplify the target of interest so you can measure accessible, meaningful, and interpretable aspects of the “connections.”

    For this particular SLO, we want students to be able to identify and discuss the employability or transferrable skills they develop outside of the classroom to their classroom learning. A worksheet that links campus and community activity to the top skills/qualities sought might be the appropriate approach to facilitate the articulation of these connections. This worksheet, used as a learning tool, demonstrates to students the connections of the skills and their value (see sample below). In addition to these skills/qualities, it is wise to include the technical knowledge of a student’s course of study, and how this applies to out-of-classroom learning. This ability to articulate the connections with clarity becomes invaluable during internship and job interviews.

    Actions That Prompt the Student’s Learning

    To prompt learning for this SLO, ask students to make the connections themselves, using classroom and out-of-classroom experiences as the basis. There is no reason to make this process a mystery; the use of a worksheet will facilitate the learning (see below). When students don’t know how a skill/quality connects, practitioners can use guided discussions and assignments so students can develop a clear understanding of how those skills/qualities connect.

    Method of Measurement

    Using the worksheet (see sample below) as a guide, ask students to articulate how they developed these skills, with specific examples they can use again during an interview. Through this guided approach, students will learn how to talk about the knowledge, skills, and qualities they have developed through the dynamic interchange between classroom and out-of-class learning. The quality of response is important for there must be sufficient detail and connection to clearly demonstrate obtained knowledge, skill, or quality. If a student’s response is vague or too generalized, help them articulate a more refined response. Hint: What will an interviewer want to hear?

    Because the worksheet is completed during career counseling sessions (or as homework and then discussed), the completion itself constitutes one measure. One could also use the individual elements of the worksheet to measure “progress” in articulation. These would be individualized measures.

    Sample Worksheet

    Classroom Learning Worksheet
    Skill/Quality In what class(es) was this skill or quality emphasized? Through which class projects did you develop this skill/quality? In which student orgs/clubs or community projects did you practice and develop this skill/quality?
    Verbal Communication
    Strong Work Ethic
    Teamwork
    Analytical Skills
    Initiative
    Specific Job Skill: Knowledge of and skill with C#

    Note:The last row is open and should be used for specific skill/knowledge areas based on the student's career aspirations. Multiple rows can be added to accommodate job complexities. This example uses knowledge/skill with C# computer language programming.

    Analysis

    As mentioned above, analyses occur within the session—the practitioner observes progress toward achieving the SLO, client by client, during sessions. Overall measurement could be done by tallying all worksheets (completed/not completed or levels of completion) across a given time period (a semester, a year). This overall measure would assess practitioner or program impact depending how the data is collected.

    How Much Is Enough?

    As with all SLOs, one needs to determine the threshold for success for the individual student and for the career center striving to achieve a benchmark level of performance.

    A possible standard for this SLO could be 90 percent of all students receiving career counseling at your career center will be able to clearly connect and articulate classroom learning and out-of-class learning with the top skills and qualities employers seek.

    Kevin Gaw is senior director at university career services, Georgia State University.


Measuring SLOs: Connecting Out-of-Classroom Learning With Classroom Learning