Writing Learning Outcomes


What I want to talk about is writing
learning outcomes and more specifically using behaviorally based language and
terms to provide a sound basis for instruction and assessment. We want to
consider what’s the essential takeaway for the course what is the absolute
minimum thing that we want students to be able to do at the end of the course
we want to think about higher versus lower level cognitive skills so we don’t
want to just focus on memorization types of facts are things like that but having
students actually know how to do things to analyze to be critical to do these
kind of deeper cognitive skills. We want to focus on observable skills and
behavior we can say that people should know something but how are they going to
be able to demonstrate that. The other great thing we want to consider is to
communicate clear expectations to the students so that they know what’s
expected of them and then finally we want these things to be capable of being
assessed in other words they have to be measurable. Here’s Blooms Taxonomy that
kind of looks at higher versus lower order thinking skills. At the lower level
is just pure knowledge of remembering we go up to comprehension and understanding
and at the highest levels we have things like analysis synthesis and evaluation
actually creating things. I always like to look at some verbs to to put together
my learning outcomes so this is a nice little table and what it does is it
gives some possible verbs you can use in developing your outcomes that kind of
address Blooms various levels of the taxonomy so if you’re interested in just
very low level skills you might ask people to define something or describe
it or list it up a little higher perhaps in
application you might ask them to calculate or apply, to practice predict. At
the analysis level you might have people be able to distinguish or to question or
separate or diagram things. At the synthesis level we might ask students to
formulate something to organize to plan, prepare or design. At the highest
level we have kind of a critical evaluation level and in that case we
might ask people to appraise things assess them critique them measure judge
recommend test so on and so forth. Now the structure of learning outcome is
important there are certain things that we absolutely want to specify in a
learning outcome. It will have an actor -generally that will be the student it will
have an observable behavior so that’s usually what you’re asking them to do
that you’re verb typically, an object of the behavior so that’s the object
generally of the verb you also need a criterion level you don’t want people to
just do something any old way you want them to do it well and so what are the
criteria by which we’re going to judge them and then finally what conditions
under which the behavior shall occur it might be a time frame it might be
certain environmental situations or whatever but what are the conditions experience students will be able to
design and conduct a valid research project on a topic of disciplinary
significance and write a journal quality research report capable of submission to
a major journal in the field here I’d like you to just take a look at this and
kind of parce out. Are all of the things there? Use the various
components of a well-written learning outcome and see if you can determine
which of those are represented in this particular learning outcome and
highlight them

Leave a Reply