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Faculty of Science Student Learning Outcomes

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Information regarding student learning outcomes for the Faculty of Science, Saint Mary's University

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Faculty of Science Student Learning Outcomes

  1. 1. BSc Curriculum Review Student Learning Outcomes KL Singfield, Associate Dean of Science – Curriculum Created: May 2016 Updated: February 2017 1
  2. 2. At the individual course level, faculty members communicate goals, design curriculum, and provide articulated Student Learning Outcomes to support the students and their programs. The Bigger Picture At the program level, Departments/Divisions/Programs interpret the graduate attributes for their individual programs. These effectively become statements of the goals for the students, coherent with institutional direction and supported by course and program curriculum. These are also Program-Level Outcomes – if they are assessed. Outcomes are always assessed. At the degree-level, the Faculty of Science describes a unique set of BSc Graduate Attributes, consistent with the Academic Plan, and in step with the vision of Faculty of Science. At the institution level, the University Academic and Strategic Plans describe our mission, vision, direction, value and values. University Faculty Program Course
  3. 3. Student Learning Outcomes 3 The Senate Policy on Course Outlines (effective November, 2012) requires instructors to include clearly articulated student learning outcomes in the course outline provided to students on or before the first day of classes.
  4. 4. Benefits to the Student Clearly communicated expectations of student achievement at the start of the course can positively impact the student experience by influencing their approach to the course. Learning outcomes can help students by letting them know in concrete terms how to recognize what progression and learning looks like in your course. Students can be more confident about meeting expectations in the course. Clearly written, they can help a weaker student to identify areas that need attention before the test, and a stronger student to reach ahead and stay engaged. Student Learning Outcomes
  5. 5. Benefits to the Instructor The task of writing student learning outcomes for a course requires the instructor to focus on what students are expected to do with content knowledge, which is different than a more traditional content-only focus, i.e. listing only what will be covered. Regular referencing of the learning outcomes keeps both student and instructor on track for the course. This refocusing of the course often leads to a more purposeful assessment design. Instructors often find test preparation much more logical when some of the questions are linked to stated expectations for learning. Meaningful reflection of the course then naturally ensues with the assessment results. Student learning outcomes guide teaching activities and should not be considered a quality assurance checklist. Student Learning Outcomes
  6. 6. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology In order for our students to truly benefit from our efforts to articulate expectations about the courses we teach, we need to practice a common vocabulary in our course outlines. This way, we minimize confusion, reinforce consistent messaging, and help students to take charge of their learning and self-assessment.
  7. 7. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology In order for our students to truly benefit from our efforts to articulate expectations about the courses we teach, we need to practice a common vocabulary in our course outlines. This way, we minimize confusion, reinforce consistent messaging, and help students to take charge of their learning and self-assessment. In this presentation, we have adopted the accepted pedagogical terminology. To this end it is useful and important to distinguish among some common terms: goals, objectives, outcomes. Goals Objective Outcome Are any of these used interchangeably? Unfortunately, terms like objectives and outcomes are often conflated. However, the Senate requires that instructors use learning outcomes on course outlines, so it is important to know the difference.
  8. 8. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology “GOALS” Goals are often listed in course outlines. They express what the instructor has in mind for the students to explore. The following excerpts may sound familiar: The goal/aim of this course is to …. … expose students to … The goal/aim of this course is to …. … expose students to … The goal/aim of this course is to …. …increase your understanding of… The goal/aim of this course is to …. …increase your understanding of… The goal/aim of this course is to …. …create an appreciation for… The goal/aim of this course is to …. …create an appreciation for… The goal/aim of this course is to …. …build on the prerequisite course... The goal/aim of this course is to …. …build on the prerequisite course... The goal/aim of this course is to …. ….… allow you to discover the relations among… The goal/aim of this course is to …. ….… allow you to discover the relations among… The goal/aim of this course is to …. …expand your knowledge of… The goal/aim of this course is to …. …expand your knowledge of… The goal/aim of this course is to …. … provide an opportunity to… The goal/aim of this course is to …. … provide an opportunity to…
  9. 9. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology “GOALS” Goals are often listed in course outlines. They express what the instructor has in mind for the students to explore. Goals are not directly related to assessment. They are over-arching statements of educational intent but they are not directly measureable and they are difficult to directly assess. This is an important distinction from student learning outcomes. Goals are broadly conceived notions of the course.
  10. 10. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology “[COURSE] OBJECTIVES” Course objectives describe what content the instructor aims to achieve or cover in the course. They are, in fact, course-centred. They are not student- centred. For example: In this course we will cover the following chapters in Tack & Richardson’s second edition …. In this course we will cover the following chapters in Tack & Richardson’s second edition …. In this course we will use the time in the lab to put into practice the concepts which we cover in class … In this course we will use the time in the lab to put into practice the concepts which we cover in class … In this course students will survey the recent literature through a critical lens of sustainability … In this course students will survey the recent literature through a critical lens of sustainability … Our objective is to investigate the local ecosystem by working in groups throughout the semester … Our objective is to investigate the local ecosystem by working in groups throughout the semester …
  11. 11. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology “[Student] Learning Outcomes” Outcomes are student learning outcomes, and different from course objectives. Learning outcomes are concrete, measurable expectations that articulate what the student should be able to do to demonstrate their learning.
  12. 12. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology “[Student] Learning Outcomes” Outcomes are student learning outcomes, and different from course objectives. Learning outcomes are concrete, measurable expectations that articulate what the student should be able to do to demonstrate their learning. Student: “How do I know if I understand this?” Instructor: “Well, if you understand this relationship, then you should be able to explain …. “. The instructor has used a term that describes a measureable action. This is KEY to writing learning outcomes.
  13. 13. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology Distinguishing among GOAL – OBJECTIVE – OUTCOME Example: Included in the statement of Goals: •to increase student understanding of the scientific study of behaviour Included in the statement of Content (course objectives): •We will cover Chapters 4-7 on Motivated Behaviours Included in the Learning Outcomes: •By the end of this course, students should be able to describe several areas of research related to motivated behaviours (e.g., hunger and eating, sexual behaviour)” (Learning Outcome taken from a course outline example in psychology at UBC)
  14. 14. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology Learning Outcomes Learning Outcomes can be written at the level of a course. For example, “by the end of the course, students should be able to differentiate between …” Learning outcomes can also be written at the level of individual units within your course. For example, “by the end of this unit, student should expect to be able to describe how to prepare a buffer of given pH using only starting materials, and be able to determine its capacity.” The level of detail is up to the instructor. Typically lower-level courses tend to list more unit-level learning outcomes than higher-level courses. Instructors can control the level of detail so as to be comfortable that the students do not mistake the learning outcomes for the exam questions.
  15. 15. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology Learning Outcomes GEOLOGY example: “By the end of this unit, students are expected to be able to describe the characteristics of the three main types of geologic faults (dip-slip, transform, and oblique) and explain the different types of motion associated with each one. ------------------ The example below is NOT a learning outcome: “By the end of this course, successful students will have a deeper appreciation of the physical world around them.” (This sounds like a course goal) Phrasing that does not present clear active verbs for students, is avoided when writing learning outcomes.
  16. 16. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology Learning Outcomes Learning outcomes are written using the following model: By the end of this [course/unit/section] students should be able to: •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages] … •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages ]… •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages ] … •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages] … Instructors can choose to write between 5 and 10 different learning outcomes (at the course level) on the course outline. If they are written for each unit or module of the course, then the total listed on the course outline may be greater.
  17. 17. Student Learning Outcomes The Importance of Consistent Terminology Learning Outcomes Learning outcomes are written using the following model: By the end of this [course/unit/section] students should be able to: •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages] … •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages ]… •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages ] … •[measureable action word from the lists on the following pages] … Instructors can choose to write between 5 and 10 different learning outcomes (at the course level) on the course outline. If they are written for each unit or module of the course, then the total listed on the course outline may be greater. Action words are chosen from the organized list on the following pages Action words are chosen from the organized list on the following pages
  18. 18. Learning Outcomes are written employing the very well-known revised Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning (cognitive domain) as a guide. The hierarchy clearly illustrates the lower and higher-order thinking skills that students can use to learn. The level of the course will generally correlate with the intellectual level of skill expected from the students. ‘remember’ is at the lowest level; ‘create’ is at the top. Learning Outcomes are written employing the very well-known revised Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning (cognitive domain) as a guide. The hierarchy clearly illustrates the lower and higher-order thinking skills that students can use to learn. The level of the course will generally correlate with the intellectual level of skill expected from the students. ‘remember’ is at the lowest level; ‘create’ is at the top. Student Learning Outcomes
  19. 19. Level 1: Remembering information; CHOOSE: Arrange, define, describe, duplicate, find, identify, label, list, locate, match, memorize, name, order, outline, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, retrieve, select, state. TAKENfrom:Anderson,L.W.,&Krathwohl(Eds.).(2001).ATaxonomy forLearning,Teaching,andAssessing:ARevisionofBloom'sTaxonomy ofEducationalObjectives.NewYork:Longman. By the end of this course students should be able to [choose from list] … These are the concrete action terms that would communicate expectation at this first level. Retrieve relevant knowledge from long- term memory.
  20. 20. Level 2: Comprehending concepts, principles; understanding meaning of information CHOOSE: classify, convert, defend, discuss, distinguish, estimate, explain, exemplify, express, extend, generalize, give example(s), identify, indicate, infer, locate, paraphrase, predict, recognize, rewrite (in your own words), report, restate, review, select, summarize, translate. TAKENfrom:Anderson,L.W.,&Krathwohl(Eds.).(2001).ATaxonomy forLearning,Teaching,andAssessing:ARevisionofBloom'sTaxonomy ofEducationalObjectives.NewYork:Longman. By the end of this course students should be able to [choose from list] … These are the concrete action terms that would communicate expectation at this second level. Go beyond remembering the ideas of others and demonstrate comprehension by constructing meaning from information, including oral, written, and graphic communication . Beyond memorizing information in the same way it is presented … use intellectual categories to abstract general concepts or principles.
  21. 21. Level 3: Applying the concepts, principles, to new situations, cases, problems. CHOOSE: apply, carry-out, change, choose, compute, demonstrate, discover, edit, employ, illustrate, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, practice, predict, prepare, produce, plot, relate, show, sketch, solve, use, write TAKENfrom:Anderson,L.W.,&Krathwohl(Eds.).(2001).ATaxonomy forLearning,Teaching,andAssessing:ARevisionofBloom'sTaxonomy ofEducationalObjectives.NewYork:Longman. By the end of this course students should be able to [choose from list] … These are the concrete action terms that would communicate expectation at this third level. Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension by applying concepts to new situations that are challenging but achievable. Illustrate knowledge, formulae, theories, models, principles, by applying it/them to solve a problem.
  22. 22. Level 4: Analyzing information, observations; recognizing patterns, structure, connections; breaking down ideas into simpler parts CHOOSE: analyze, appraise, attribute, breakdown, classify, compare, contrast, criticize, derive, map/make diagram, differentiate, distinguish, examine, experiment, find, identify, illustrate, infer, interpret, integrate, model, organize, outline, point-out, question, relate, select, separate, structure, subdivide, test TAKENfrom:Anderson,L.W.,&Krathwohl(Eds.).(2001).ATaxonomy forLearning,Teaching,andAssessing:ARevisionofBloom'sTaxonomy ofEducationalObjectives.NewYork:Longman. By the end of this course students should be able to [choose from list] … These are the concrete action terms that would communicate expectation at this fourth level. Begin to use creative thinking: break material into constituent parts and determine mutual relationships, overall structure, and purpose. Test, compare, examine. Generate own ideas; consider different approaches, discover a new pattern, think independentl
  23. 23. Level 5: Evaluating; making judgements based on internal evidence or external criteria. CHOOSE: argue, assess, attach, check, choose, compare, conclude, contrast, critique, defend, describe, discriminate, estimate, evaluate, explain, hypothesize, judge, justify, interpret, relate, predict, rate, select, summarize, support, value TAKENfrom:Anderson,L.W.,&Krathwohl(Eds.).(2001).ATaxonomy forLearning,Teaching,andAssessing:ARevisionofBloom'sTaxonomy ofEducationalObjectives.NewYork:Longman. These are the concrete action terms that would communicate expectation at this fifth level. By the end of this course students should be able to [choose from list] … Communicate the products of independent thinking to others; make judgements based on criteria and standards. Begin to use systematic thinking: elaborate and validate new ideas; determine what flows logically from available evidence.
  24. 24. Level 6: Creating, rearranging component ideas into a new whole CHOOSE: arrange, assemble, categorize, collect, combine, comply, compose, construct, create, design, develop, devise, explain, formulate, generate, plan, prepare, program, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, reorganize, revise, rewrite, set-up, summarize, synthesize, write (thesis) TAKENfrom:Anderson,L.W.,&Krathwohl(Eds.).(2001).ATaxonomy forLearning,Teaching,andAssessing:ARevisionofBloom'sTaxonomy ofEducationalObjectives.NewYork:Longman. By the end of this course students should be able to [choose from list] … These are the concrete action terms that would communicate expectation at this sixth level. Put elements together to form a coherent whole. Construct, design, or develop a project related to a specific topic or area. Develop long-term solutions.
  25. 25. Devising Learning Outcomes is an exercise in thinking differently about what we teach and how we teach it. Perhaps it something we do inherently – but the idea of expressing them in the course outline for our students to read at the beginning of the course, may be new. Clearly communicating expectations of student achievement at the beginning of the course in the form of student learning outcomes directs the students in their discovery, learning, and studying. Referring to the learning outcomes regularly throughout the term helps to increase their value to students and encourages alignment, early on, between instructor and student expectations. They can help to motivate students, and satisfy already- motivated students. Consider posting your learning outcomes separately (in addition to the complete course outline) on your Brightspace page. Highlight the relevant outcomes at the beginning of lecture when you start a new unit. If you are drawing attention to them and using them – then your students will, too. They can help students identify gaps in their learning and direct students who are seeking help. Student Learning Outcomes
  26. 26. Anderson, Lorin W., & Krathwohl, David R. (Eds.). (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman. http://www.celt.iastate.edu/pdfs-docs/teaching/RevisedBloomsHandout.pdf A Model of Learning Objectives. Iowa State Univ. [accessed August 2015] Daly, William. 'Beyond Critical Thinking: Teaching the Thinking Skills Necessary To Academic & Professional Success. Foundations for Critical Thinking. Trudy Bers et al. 1st ed. Columbia: National Resource Centre for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, 2015. Chapter 1. Gahagan, Jimmie, John Dingfelder, and Katharine Pei. A Faculty And Staff Guide To Creating Learning Outcomes. 1st ed. Columbia: National Resource Centre for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, 2010. 23-25.
  27. 27. Thank you Course Outlines are submitted via the Department Secretary to the Dean of Science Office prior to the beginning of term. They are archived. Instructors may solicit feedback. Faculty of Science Course Outline Guidelines Available online at Faculty Resources Feedback / Questions: associatedean.science@smu.ca

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