• Measuring SLOs: Expressing Values Clearly

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    August 6, 2014


    by Kevin Gaw, Ph.D.

    This Issue’s Student Learning Outcome (SLO)

    Students can express their personal and work values with clarity.

    What to Measure and Why

    Career services practitioners know that when a candidate uses his or her personal and work values when applying for career opportunities, the likelihood of a congruent match between candidate and opportunity is significantly higher, increasing the authenticity of the application. Employers look for and appreciate a match, and, therefore, a student's ability to express his or her personal and work values with clarity is an important aspect of career planning. Further, when an employee’s values match the work environment, job satisfaction increases, as does organizational affiliation and productivity.

    This SLO can be broken into two parts for measurement:

    • Identifying personal and work values—Identifying values is fairly straightforward. Most practitioners have some sort of values card sort handy or worksheet system, in addition to using standardized online or paper-and-pencil assessment tools. These values, sorted in order of preference or strength from most to least important, provide the foundation for the in-depth exploration on which the client and practitioner embark.
    • Clearly expressing these values—Expressing these values without ambiguity and in a manner that clearly demonstrates understanding is the more difficult challenge for many students. This is particularly true for traditionally aged students who have less life experience, from which many values are derived and solidified. Students often need to talk about and explore their values and to associate life experiences (their own and those of others) that support their expressed values. Clarity and understanding are the keys to this expression and this takes some exploration and practice. What is clarity and understanding? When students can clearly express their personal and work values, they:
      • Can associate one or more meaningful life event/experience with each identified value that helps define why the value is important to the student.
      • Can make the abstract association with a personal/workplace value and the workplace environment, mission, and/or vision.
      • Can state how one’s personal and workplace values are part of one’s career identity, and how these values can support the vision and mission of an organization, as well as support their sense of self.

    Actions That Prompt Student Learning

    Using a values assessment method (card sort, worksheet, or formal assessment), have students identify and rank their values based on what is most important to them as a person. Then have them work through the above three strategies in sequence, for each expressed value. Most values have a personal story, and it is this story that creates the meaning for the student. If many values are listed, focus on the core values and instruct the students they should do this for all the ranked values. This can be done by journaling or speaking with the counselor. The counselor’s role is to help facilitate the associations, understandings, and organizational connections by asking questions that foster insight and understanding.

    Method of Measurement

    Because this is a student-by-student SLO, the primary measurement is by the number of students able to complete this task: frequencies. That is, the practitioner documents the number of students who can express their personal and work values with clarity, as defined by the above three strategies. Ideally, when a student can’t do this, the practitioner will work with the student until he or she can.

    How Much Is Enough?

    If you set this as one of your SLOs, all students with whom you work should be able to express their personal and work values clearly. Since a values list could be rather long, a realistic amount for this SLO assessment could be that the student can do this for their top three or five personal values and top three or five work values.

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


Measuring SLOs: Expressing Values Clearly