Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Learning outcomes

First, use Google to find 1-2 syllabi from classes within your discipline that are taught at other colleges or universities. Scan these syllabi specifically for the following. Do they clearly outline the learning outcomes for the course? How and where? Is it clear how these outcomes will be measured

Syllabi, in general, fall in one of two categories; either they explain at great length what the learning outcomes of the course are and how they are measured, or they don’t mention learning outcomes at all. From the Introductory Biology Laboratory syllabi I’ve looked at, none described learning outcomes without mentioning how the learning outcomes will be measured. Learning outcomes and their metrics always when together.

There is a clear organizational distinction between syllabi that do not have learning outcomes from the syllabi that do, a distinction that emphasizes class policy versus class content. The syllabi without learning outcomes emphasize the rules and regulations of the class and the order in which the material will be covered. In sharp contrast, syllabi with learning outcomes emphasize learning over policy; the learning outcomes are the course’s priority and as such are syllabi top item.

Standing out amongst the syllabi that I reviewed is the one for Clayton State College BIO1111L, which has clear program learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are divided into general education outcomes, teacher education standards and course learning outcomes. In the general education outcomes, two outcomes are identified: communication outcomes and critical thinking outcomes. The methods used to measure communication and critical thinking outcome components are clearly described in a tabular manner. Together, these outcomes paint a clear picture of the course learning objectives for the students.

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