Learning outcomes will specify the expected achievements that will be demonstrated by students in the areas of knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes as a result of their successful completion of a course or topic. (Flinders University Policy on Course and Topic Development, Approval and Management, Section 5.3)
Learning outcomes are statements of the attributes and capabilities that a student should be able to display on successful completion of the topic. They provide the basis for determining student progress and designing assessment strategies and methods. Learning outcomes also provide signposts towards appropriate content and learning interactions.
Barnett, Parry and Coate (2001) identify three curriculum domains:
knowledge of concepts and practices of the subject specialism;
action competencies - the theory-in-use and generic (work and communication) skills acquired through doing the work of the discipline e.g. through work integrated learning; and
the development of ‘self' - the student's own identity and persona in relation to the disciplinary community.
This third curriculum domain can be extended to include development of the student's identity (self) beyond the discipline within society. Several of the Flinders University Graduate Qualities related specifically to this third domain.
The fundamental questions that need to be asked about intended learning outcomes are:
What are the intended outcomes of the learning experience for students in the domains of:
Knowledge and application of knowledge?
Action and process competencies - including generic skills?
development of self?
What is the appropriate balance across the domains?
How will these outcomes contribute to the development of the Flinders Graduate Qualities?
what skills, knowledge and experience are the students expected to leave with upon successful completion of the topic?
what must they be able to do?
what knowledge must they have?
what attitudes and behaviours must they display?
These questions determine the core learning outcomes and guide assessment, content and learning methods.
Beyond this core, if the learning space allows:
what should they be able to do?
what knowledge should they have?
what attitudes and behaviours should they display?
These questions help to establish secondary and/or extension outcomes - the things that help to identify students performing beyond the essential expectations of the topic.
And finally if the learning space allows:
what could they be able to do?
what knowledge could they have?
what attitudes and behaviours could they display?
These questions help to identify "nice to have" components: things that while not essential, help to round out, contextualise and complete the learning experience. If the content and or outcomes are over ambitious for the learning time available, these can be the first to go without compromising the essential characteristics of the learning experience.
In developing and recording intended learning outcomes, words really matter. In particular, verbs really matter (PDF 51KB)
Examples of learning outcomes built on topic aims:
Learning outcomes are statements of the capabilities that a student should be able to display on successful completion of the topic
Example 1: Statistical process analysis
Aim: to introduce the concept of statistical thinking and to develop student's capabilities to use statistical thinking and methodology to improve processes
On completion of this topic a student should be able to:
describe the role within business/industry of statistical thinking; methods for problem solving and process improvement
understanding and quantifying variation
collect data for a specified purpose and recognize the limitations of existing data
graphically analyze data using basic tools
recognize situations when more advanced techniques are needed
derive appropriate, actionable conclusions from data analyses
use statistical thinking and methods in industry