outcomes are statements of what students will be able to do
after they complete a course. Learning outcomes that are assessable
make clear the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that students
will develop in the course. Compare the following kinds of language
for representing learning outcomes:
verbs on the left usually lead to ill-defined statements because
it is hard to assess whether someone "understands"
or "appreciates". Although it may be possible to assess
when someone has adequately "described...", "discussed",
or "explained", these performances may simply be a
function of learners reproducing material they have memorized.
verbs on the right are more likely to lead to well-defined statements
when they indicate the product to be "analyzed...",
"designed...", etc. These deliverables can be scored,
often with rubrics, in ways that indicate how well the learner
has "analyzed...", "designed...", etc.
illustrate this contrast, consider the following transformation
of learning outcomes for a course.
more help on developing learning outcomes, see the Instructional
Objective Writing Assistant.
a sequence of learning outcomes
the learning outcomes in an expertise-building sequence in the
sense that later learning outcomes require or build on the earlier
ones in essential ways.
learning experiences and assessments
learning experiences for learner performance of the capabilities
represented by the learning outcomes. When learning experiences
are authentic in the sense that they simulate tasks that graduates
in the field would perform, it is often possible to publish
the learning experience in the discipline's education literature
as a case or problem. When they simulate authentic performance
in the discipline, learning experiences can be used for assessment
purposes. That is, learners can work through a learning experience
to learn or they can complete a learning experience as an assessment
of their competence in performing the task.
learners working through the learning experiences, i.e., teach
with the new learning experiences.
learner competence for each learning outcomes by:
learner performance to performance of earlier learners, with
the same learning experiences and with learning experiences
motivated by different learning theories
for clues for how to improve the learning experiences, including
matching them more thoroughly to the authentic performances
that graduates are expected to complete
the learning experiences to prompt greater learning
learners are developing the skills valued in graduates working
in the field, it may be possible to publish learning experiments
in the discipline's research literature as instances of expertise
development. Experiments not meeting the standards of a discipline's
research literature may be publishable in the discipline's education
an article-length treatment of this process, see Borthick, A.
F., D. R. Jones, and S. Wakai. 2003. Designing learning experiences
within learners' zones of proximal development (ZPDs): Enabling
collaborative learning on-site and online. Journal of Information
Systems 17(1): 107-134. PDF