Learning Outcomes

Definition - a Learning Outcome:

  • is a clear and specific statement that identifies what students must demonstrate on completion of their study, whether for a program or a course or a section of a course.
  • determines what student and teacher activities, resources (content and tools) and strategies are required to help students achieve the learning outcomes set.
  • is the starting point for designing targeted assessment tasks that must align with the outcomes set: assessments provide students the opportunity to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning, at the level and standard required to successfully pass the course of study. Learning outcomes, student and teacher activities, content and assessment tasks must be clearly aligned and interrelated.

Designing Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify what students need to demonstrate that they have learnt. E.g. “At the end of this course, students will be able to: …..”
  2. Use an action verb that helps describe what students are expected to evidence or do on completion of their study. E.g. identify, compare, communicate, apply, analyse, evaluate. Avoid using more passive and generic verbs and phrases such as: know, understand, be aware of, be familiar with.
  3. Statements such as “conduct an investigation”; “write an essay”, “complete a literature review” are not learning outcomes, they are tasks.
  4. Learning outcomes are best as short statements with one action verb. Do not combine several actions into one learning outcome. Use plain language words that everyone can understand.
  5. Both programs and courses should aim to have no more than six learning outcomes, though occasionally more learning outcomes are needed.
  6. Course Learning Outcomes identify how the course aligns to the program and the Program Learning Outcomes.
  7. Bloom’s Taxonomy is frequently used to help structure levels and standards of learning outcomes, elaborated in assessments. The Taxonomy identifies the cognitive differences between “lower level thinking” (remembering, comprehending, applying) and more “higher order level thinking” (analysing, evaluating, creating).
  8. Traditional curriculum is dominated by content knowledge and the reproduction of knowledge as a key learning outcome. Attention needs to be given to how that knowledge is used as well as the skills needed to effectively use that knowledge: recalling, explaining, applying, innovating and creating knowledge as well as non-cognitive outcomes related to collaboration, teamwork and ethical behaviours, etc.
  9. Attention also needs to be given to new literacy skills (e.g. information, visual, critical, and media literacies) our students require to succeed in a digital age (See especially, Scientia Education Experience’s fourth dimension: Being Digital).

 

Examples of learning outcomes

Knowledge

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • explain the fundamental facts, concepts, principles, theories, and terminology used in the main branches of science.
  • identify health care needs of different groups in society (e.g. the elderly, indigenous people, immigrant groups and refugees). 

Skills

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques.
  • deploy media and information technology in the service of independent and collaborative research to demonstrate high levels of new literacy skills.
  • apply effective communication skills to present a coherent and sustained argument to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Application of Knowledge and skills

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • analyse the extent to which systemic factors support equitable and compassionate health care.
  • analyse data derived from practical investigations, and interpret and report their significance in the light of underlying theory, practical issues and relevant information from other sources
  • responds appropriately to the complexity of ethical issues throughout all stages of life, particularly at the beginning and end of life. 

References and Further Readings