Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

CLO Assessment FAQ

CLOs stand for Core Learning Outcomes. Core learning outcomes are general education competencies (knowledge and skills) that are expected of college-educated individuals for work and life.

Core learning outcomes are required for three essential reasons:

  1. For Faculty - Knowledge and Improvement of Teaching Effectiveness
  2. For Students – To Improve Core Student Learning!
  3. For Public Accountability – also required by SACS, VCCS, and SCHEV.

VCCS General Education Policy ( defined Six General Education Competencies that all Virginia Community College’s must determine learning outcomes for and asses in accordance with SACSCOC accreditation standards and SCHEV policy.

The general educational competencies are:

  1. Civic Engagement
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Professional Readiness
  4. Quantitative Literacy
  5. Scientific Literacy
  6. Written Communication

Civic Engagement  is the ability to contribute to the civic life and well-being of local, national, and global communities as both as social responsibility and a life-long learning process. Degree graduates will demonstrate the knowledge and civic values necessary to become informed and contributing participants in a democratic society. 

Critical Thinking  is the ability to use information, ideas and arguments from relevant perspectives to make sense of complex issues and solve problems. Degree graduates will locate, evaluate, interpret, and combine information to reach well-reasoned conclusions or solutions. 

Professional Readiness  is the ability to work well with others and display situationally and culturally appropriate demeanor and behavior. Degree graduates will demonstrate skills important for successful transition into the workplace and pursuit of further education. 

Quantitative Literacy  is the ability to perform accurate calculations, interpret quantitative information, apply and analyze relevant numerical data, and use results to support conclusions. Degree graduates will calculate, interpret, and use numerical and quantitative information in a variety of settings. 

Scientific Literacy  is the ability to apply the scientific method and related concepts and principles to make informed decisions and engage with issues related to the natural, physical, and social world. Degree graduates will recognize and know how to us the scientific method, and to evaluate empirical information. 

Written Communication  is the ability to develop, convey, and exchange ideas in writing, as appropriate to a given context and audience. Degree graduates will express themselves effectively in a variety of written forms. 

All degree-awarding programs, select certificates, and disciplines should assess at least one CLO per year in addition to three SLOs that are determined by the program/discipline. Degree-awarding programs and select certificates report on SLOs annually. Disciplines currently submit a CLO assessment report annually, while SLOs are reported on in their in-depth reviews.

CLOs are assessed on a college-wide schedule. NOVA requires that atleast one CLO be assessed each year, in addition to three SLOs. Currently, programs/disciplines have a choice between assessing one of two recommended CLOs each year. All CLOs should be assessed at least 2-3 times in every 10-year period.

Core Learning Outcome (CLO)







Civic Engagement X X
Critical Thinking X X
Professional Readiness X X
Quantitative Literacy X X
Scientific Literacy X X
Written Communication X X

The most common way to gather information on CLOs is to use student assignments faculty already have in their courses. This is called “embedded assessments” and provides the most direct evidence of CLOs.