If you read the article on backward design, you might already have a list of inspiration to develop your learning outcomes for your course. To help you draft refined outcomes for your learners, let's dive into student learning outcomes!
Learning outcomes help students (and us!) to know what students will be able to demonstrate in knowledge, skills, and values upon completing a module or course. Clear outcomes provide the foundation for evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and learning.
There are three essential components of a measurable learning outcome:
- Student learning behaviors
- Assessment methods
- Student performance criteria
Student Learning Behaviors
Focus on student behavior by using specific action verbs that are observable. This should focus on what the student will be able to demonstrate. This is the student-facing side of the objectives so that students know what their goals are for the module or course to self-reflect and track their own progress towards goals. Examples include:
- Students will be able to identify and apply Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines to their current teaching context.
- Students will be able to evaluate and create accessible content.
- Students will be able to organize a course's structure using backward design.
To help you identify measurable verbs, you can reference this Bloom's Taxonomy Action Verbs resource.
Select appropriate assessment methods. You will likely consider multiple assessment methods. You should select the method that allows you to best determine the extent to which the stated learning outcome is achieved. We recommend employing a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods.
Example assessment methods:
- Exit slips
- Multimedia projects
- Lab reports
- Practicum/internship feedback from field instructor or employer
- Student-produced videos
- State, national, and international standardized assessments for licensing, etc.
You will learn more about assessment opportunities and practices on Day 3. For now, you might consider browsing this list from Iowa State University.
Student Performance Criteria
Select and clearly communicate the criteria that students will be evaluated with. Performance criteria express specific and measurable terms that are acceptable in your course. Here are a few examples of criteria for success based on a few standard assessment methods:
- Scoring rubric: All students will score an average of 8.5/10. None will score less than 7.0.
- Survey: 85% of students surveyed will demonstrate an increase in their understanding of UDL.
- Test:75% of all students will score at or above the average across sections of the course. No more than 25% will score lower than one standard deviation from the section average.
Putting it all Together
Once we've identified the three essential components for the learning outcome, we can piece it together for our records and to guide our assessment of teaching and learning taking place in our course. Here is one example of how this might look:
- Module objective (what the student sees): Students will be able to organize a course's structure using backward design.
- Add in the assessment method: By the end of the SOIREE program, students will produce an organized course map for at least one unit using backward design.
- Add in the performance criteria: By the end of the SOIREE program, students will produce an organized course map for at least one unit using backward design and 100% of students will complete all categories for that unit in the template provided.
If you're writing measurable learning outcomes for the first time, it can be tricky to get into the swing of things. Arizona State University has developed an Objectives Builder Tool that can assist you in developing your skills.
Design Lead: Sarah Wellman
Content Leads: Kate Sonka, Stephen Thomas, and Jeremy Van Hof
Content Authors: Jason Archer, Kevin Henley, David Howe, Summer Issawi, Leslie Johnson, Rashad Muhammad, Nick Noel, Candace Robertson, Scott Schopieray, Jessica Sender, Daniel Trego, Valeta Wensloff, and Sue Halick