For our purposes, a goal (or aim) is a broad, general statement which may include the philosophical base that underpins a unit of study. There is also considerable debate over the use of the terms "objective" and "outcome"; however, for our purposes we will ignore this conflict and take them to mean the same thing.
Finally, there are many different ways to go about writing outcome statements, and no one method is correct. The following is merely intended as a guide of how to make a start.
A learning outcome is a statement of what a learner is expected to know, understand or be able to do as a result of a learning process.
Think about the big picture
What is the major aim of the unit of study? What is the unit trying to achieve? It is much better to sketch out the whole unit before you go to the specifics.
Write the goal or aim statement for your unit if it does not already exist. This should be a broad general statement. The goal or aim statement of a unit does not give students specific information about what they will be expected to be able to do or know, nor does it give information about how they will be assessed.
For example: General Genetics 204 (139.204)
This unit provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts responsible for diversity of form, function and life responses found in all biological organisms. The principles of Mendelian, population, quantitative, cyto and molecular genetics are considered together with the implications they have for advancing understanding of human disease, plant/animal/microbe interactions, plant/animal/microbe physiology and metabolism and genotype x environment interactions.
Consider the scope of your unit
Specify the major topics or sections in your unit by brainstorming and making a list. What sorts of things do you want the students to learn? At this level the outcome statements will be quite broad, referring to such areas as communication skills, computer literacy and problem solving.
Students are able to:
The next step is to identify specifics
What specific, detailed knowledge, information, or skills do you expect your students to learn for each section or lecture of your unit? Brainstorm and create a list. This is where you will write clear, precise statements that detail what the students will be actually doing.
Your list may include:
Think about how students can demonstrate their learning
What exactly should they be able to do by the unit's completion? Brainstorm and generate a list of ideas for how students can demonstrate what, how much and how well they have learned.
Your list may include:
You should now have a list of specific things that you want your students to be able to learn and skills that they should be able to do. You now need to write these ideas into learning outcome statements.
Remember that there are no set number of learning outcomes; however, each learning outcome statement should be able to be assessed. If you have too many outcomes maybe you need to think about the amount of content that you are trying to cover!Back to top