Program Competencies and Student Learning Outcomes

For faculty adding appendices to syllabi: Now that you've obtained the competencies and outcomes for your program, return to Assessment Basics for information about linking course-level learning expectations to program-level learning expectations.

Program competencies are large and overarching.

Competencies at the program level must align with the mission of the school and should guide and structure each program’s curriculum to ensure that students receive the instruction and/or learning opportunities they need in order to achieve mastery of the competencies.

Program competencies are framed broadly to encompass the complex conceptual aspects of the degree. They are the things students will have or be when they graduate from the program. Examples of program competencies are Analytical Reasoning, Ethical Thinking, or Quantitative Skills.

Program competencies can be difficult to measure without further definition.

Student learning outcomes are concrete and measurable.

Student learning outcomes indicate what students should be able to do to demonstrate a given program competency. Examples of SLOs are Students will be able to identify an ethical dilemma in a given business scenario or Students will be able to solve a business problem using a variety of analytical frameworks. Program competencies are typically broken down into three or four SLOs. Together, program competencies and SLOs offer coherent statements of the core learning expected in each program.

Curriculum maps provide an overview.

Curriculum maps show a bird's-eye view of the entire required curriculum of each program and, when first completed, allow program leadership to identify any gaps or redundancies in short order. They facilitate and support Kelley’s assurance of learning process.

At the Kelley School of Business, we use tabular curriculum maps, with required courses forming the columns of the table and the program’s SLOs forming the rows of the table.

In this truncated example of a curriculum map, a program's required courses are listed across the top. Two of this program’s six learning competencies and their concomitant SLOs are listed down the page. A quick glance shows which program student learning outcomes each required course addresses.