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Writing Effective Learning Outcomes

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Joe McVeigh and Jennifer Bixby share tips on writing effective learning outcomes from the 2011 TESOL conference in New Orleans. An accompanying handout can be downloaded at www.joemcveigh.org/resources

Published in: Education, Technology

Writing Effective Learning Outcomes

  1. 1. Writing Effective Learning Outcomes Joe McVeigh Jenny Bixby TESOL New Orleans, Louisiana, USA March 19, 2011
  2. 2. Joe Jenny
  3. 3. <ul><li>How do you use learning outcomes? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Definitions and underlying concepts <ul><li>What is a learning outcome? </li></ul><ul><li>An outcome is the desired result of the learning experience. The outcome can also be called the goal or achievement target. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Definitions and underlying concepts <ul><li>Objectives are the intended results of instruction. They specify what is expected and describe what should be assessed. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Definitions and underlying concepts <ul><li>Objectives are the intended results of instruction. They specify what is expected and describe what should be assessed. Outcomes are the achieved results of what was learned. They are the evidence that learning has taken place. Outcomes are the abilities or products students have shown after instruction. Outcomes are what teachers will assess. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Definitions and underlying concepts <ul><li>A student learning outcome is “a specific statement that describes the knowledge, skills/abilities, or attitudes that students are expected to learn upon successful completion of a course of study, such as a course, seminar, or certification program.” (Wood, 2008) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Definitions and underlying concepts <ul><li>The backwards design process </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Contexts in which learning outcomes are used <ul><li>TESOL presentation evaluation rubric </li></ul>
  10. 10. TESOL presentation rubric The proposal abstract is well written and provides an explicit statement of participant outcomes and how they will be achieved. Excellent The proposal abstract is clearly written and provides a general statement of participant outcomes and how they will be achieved. Good The proposal abstract is adequately written and includes a statement of participant outcomes, but needs more detail Satisfactory The abstract gives some ideas about outcomes, but needs to specify how they will be reached during the presentation Fair The proposal abstract needs work on sentence structure and fails to give outcomes Poor Clarity of proposal and participant outcomes Evaluation criteria
  11. 11. Contexts in which learning outcomes are used <ul><li>U.S. state boards of education </li></ul>
  12. 12. Contexts in which learning outcomes are used <ul><li>Council of Europe CEFR “Can do” statements. </li></ul><ul><li>Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment </li></ul><ul><li>A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Can scan texts for relevant information and grasp main topic of text, reading almost as quickly as a native speaker.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Contexts in which learning outcomes are used <ul><li>CEA standards for curriculum </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Course objectives are written, observable, and measurable . . .” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The program or institution documents in writing whether students have attained the learning objectives for courses taken within the curriculum using instruments and procedures that appropriately assess . . . .” </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. What does a good student learning outcome look like? S M A R T tudent-centered easurable ction-oriented esults-driven ailored to specific programs
  15. 15. What does a good student learning outcome look like? <ul><li>Not too narrow or broad </li></ul>
  16. 16. What does a good student learning outcome look like? <ul><li>Uses strong, clear, concrete verbs such as those found in Bloom’s Taxonomy. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Knowledge <ul><li>define </li></ul><ul><li>describe </li></ul><ul><li>identify </li></ul><ul><li>list </li></ul><ul><li>outline </li></ul><ul><li>explain </li></ul><ul><li>generalize </li></ul><ul><li>give examples </li></ul><ul><li>infer </li></ul><ul><li>predict </li></ul><ul><li>summarize </li></ul><ul><li>paraphrase </li></ul>
  18. 18. Comprehension and application <ul><li>demonstrate </li></ul><ul><li>prepare </li></ul><ul><li>produce </li></ul><ul><li>rate </li></ul><ul><li>show </li></ul><ul><li>solve </li></ul><ul><li>use </li></ul>
  19. 19. Synthesis <ul><li>categorize </li></ul><ul><li>compare </li></ul><ul><li>conclude </li></ul><ul><li>design </li></ul><ul><li>explain </li></ul><ul><li>organize </li></ul><ul><li>plan </li></ul><ul><li>revise </li></ul><ul><li>support </li></ul>
  20. 20. What does a good student learning outcome look like? <ul><li>Avoids this language: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be familiar with . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gain an understanding of . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate knowledge of . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Wood 2008) </li></ul>
  21. 21. What does a good student learning outcome look like? <ul><li>Use parallel language. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t mix verb tenses: choose either future or present and stick with it: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students can . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students will be able to . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make it clear: by when? End of course or program vs. beginning placement </li></ul>
  22. 22. What does a good student learning outcome look like? <ul><li>Make sure that the outcome is measurable. </li></ul>
  23. 23. How do we assess learning outcomes? <ul><li>Tests, quizzes, exams </li></ul><ul><li>Written work, oral presentations </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Portfolio assessment </li></ul><ul><li>What about class participation and effort? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Try your hand at writing effective learning outcomes <ul><li>You are teaching a basic cooking class to junior high students who have little or no previous cooking experience. The final learning outcome of your course is to have students successfully prepare a gumbo recipe. </li></ul><ul><li>Write one learning outcome that your course could include. Describe how you will measure or assess the outcome. </li></ul>
  25. 25. The process of developing learning outcomes <ul><li>Main stages of the process (Sweeney 2008) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the desired results (Outcomes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine acceptable evidence (Assessment process) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plan learning experiences and instruction </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>The importance of process (Sweeney 2008) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify essential and valued student learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop common formative and summative assessments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analyze current levels of achievement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set achievement goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share and create lessons and strategies to improve </li></ul></ul>The process of developing learning outcomes
  27. 27. The process of developing learning outcomes <ul><li>Dealing with resistance </li></ul>
  28. 28. Questions
  29. 30. Download copies of handout and PowerPoint slides at www.joemcveigh.org/resources Thank you !

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