Round Table Discussion at the Global Conference on Education & Research
University of South Florida, Sarasota, FL
Vicki Caruana, Ph.D.
Chris Caruana, M.Ed.
May 23, 2019
Learning outcomes and objectives are the first step in backwards design. As such they hold the primary spot in the course development process. Faculty engaged in course or program development face the prospect of a poorly designed course and less than meaningful learning experiences for students if they are ill-equipped to design meaningful and measurable outcomes. In addition, when outcomes and objectives are mandated by an institution and those outcomes are not meaningful and measurable, faculty can address this lack by designing module objectives that are meaningful and measurable. The process of developing learning outcomes that actively engage learners in a way that clearly describe what learners will learn and be able to do includes design principles to guide course authors.
The following phases of outcomes and course design are connected by the theoretical frameworks of Understanding by Design (Wiggins, 1998), Universal Design for Learning (CAST, 1998), and Quality Matters (2003) and create a nexus of effective practices. In addition, we must ask and answer these questions:
- Who is responsible for creating meaningful and measurable outcomes?
- When are outcomes designed?
- Who has a stake in the design of meaningful and measurable outcomes?
- What are the barriers to effective design of outcomes?
- Where does the responsibility and accountability for outcomes assessment lie?
The use of Backwards Design (1) provides for more relevant and meaningful learning experiences; (2) ensures that the required course outcomes are met; and (3) prepares learners to perform successfully on their final assessment. One starts with the end—the desired results (goals or standards)—and then “derives the curriculum from the evidence of learning (performances) called for by the standard and the teaching needed to equip students to perform” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2000).
Conduct a Needs Assessment: Are there institutional, disciplinary, or professional knowledge and skills that must be addressed in outcomes that are developed or that must be adopted without revision in a program or course? Are there specific student/learner needs that should be addressed during course development? Are there course delivery needs that must be addressed during course development? The answers to these guiding questions form your needs assessment. In some institutions, program and/or course outcomes may be mandated and faculty are not able to revise them. In this case, you will learn how to develop meaningful and measurable learning experiences that will ultimately meet those mandated course outcomes.
The Design Phase for making meaningful and measurable outcomes includes the following four (4) steps. A brief overview of these steps will be provided:
Design 5-8 Course Outcomes. Sample course outcomes from different disciplines will be provided with an opportunity to discuss how to revise existing outcomes.
Design Module Objectives. How to align module level objectives with course level outcomes will be discussed with samples from various disciplines provided.
Design Assessments that Meet Outcomes and Objectives. A brief overview of this process will be provided along with a template for a Course Outcome Alignment Table.
Design Meaningful Learning Experiences, Resources, and Activities. A brief introduction to how to create meaningful learning experiences through scaffolded student learning will be provided along with a sample Learning Activities Alignment Table.
The focus of this session is the Design Phase*. In order to provide the most practical application of this topic, the micro focus of designing module/unit-level learning objectives will be provided.
*Using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to Construct Objectives
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy outlines six levels of learning. Moving up the list of levels allows for deeper learning to occur, however, it is important to include objectives that meet multiple levels across the taxonomy. Each level of learning can be described with verbs when developing an objective. For example, to write an objective aimed at the Remember level, use a verb like list or define.
The learner will list the 50 states and their capitals.
|Level of Learning||Objective Action|
|(Lowest) Remember: Recall facts and knowledge from long-term memory||List, Recognize, Recall, Identify, Define, Describe, State|
|Understand: Assign meaning to given information||Summarize, Classify, Clarify, Predict, Interpret, Infer, Compare, Explain, Discuss, Distinguish|
|Apply: Use learned information in a given situation||Respond, Provide, Carry out, Use, Execute, Implement, Apply, Demonstrate, Prepare, Conduct, Utilize, Show|
|Analyze: Break down the material and determine how the pieces relate to one another or the larger picture of the information||Select, Differentiate, Integrate, Deconstruct, Organize, Attribute, Analyze, Develop, Design, Illustrate, Defend|
|Evaluate: Judge the results of something based on the information learned||Check, Determine, Judge, Reflect, Critique, Conclude, Compare, Interpret, Justify, Test, Verify|
|Create: Put learned information together to generate new structures/patterns(Highest)||Generate, Assemble, Design, Create, Plan, Produce, Integrate, Revise, Edit, Transform, Organize, Reorganize|
Characteristics of Well Designed Learning Objectives:
- Objectives should identify a learning outcome.
- Objectives should be consistent with course goals. When objectives and goals are not consistent, two avenues of approach are available: change or eliminate the objective, or change the course goal.
- Objectives should be precise. It is sometimes difficult to strike a balance between too much and too little precision in an objective. There is a fine line between choosing objectives that reflect an important and meaningful outcome of instruction, objectives that trivialize information into isolated facts, and objectives that are extremely vague. Remember, the purpose of an objective is to give all learners the same understanding of the desired instructional outcome.
The Post-Design Phase includes activities that support faculty’s work in outcomes development and offers insight into how to use data about the extent to which learners have met the outcomes to improve the overall learning experiences in both courses and the program as a whole.
Create a Course Map. A brief overview and sample of a Course Map will be provided.
Propose Curriculum Design or Revision to Relevant Governing Bodies. How to propose new or revised courses with meaningful outcomes along with a rationale will be discussed.
Program and Course Evaluation. How to use your assessment data to determine to what extent learners have mastered course outcomes will be discussed.
To find out more about using meaningful and measurable outcomes in your course development, read these articles from Faculty Focus:
|Course Outcome or Objective||Module/Unit-Level Objectives|
|PSY 100: SLO.1Students will demonstrate knowledge of the major concepts, models, and issues in psychology.||Describe and discuss how the subject of aggression is perceived through the biological perspective, the cross-cultural perspective, and the psychodynamic perspective.Using a provided case study, identify which of the seven psychological perspectives is applied by the psychologist.Compare and contrast the seven psychological perspectives for origin, theory and clinical application.|