The expected learning for the course (course learning outcomes) is derived from “designing back” from the expected learning for the program (program learning outcome). The course outcomes contribute to the achievement of the program outcomes. Collectively, the course learning outcomes from all the courses in the program lead to the achievement of the program learning outcomes. When planning or revising a course it is important to know how this course will work with the other courses in the program to help learners achieve the program learning outcomes. Curriculum maps are often used to help situate a course within the broader program of study.
Course learning outcomes provide the anchor for course design. Assessment is linked directly to the course learning outcomes. In the assessment activities, learners demonstrate their achievement of the course learning outcomes. Similarly, learning activities are aligned with the course outcomes. Learning activities are designed and organized to help learners achieve the course learning outcomes.
What are course learning outcomes?
The course learning outcomes describe clearly what learners will know and be able to do at the end of the course. They are performance–based and results oriented. They describe learning that is significant and related to what learners will be expected to do in the “real world” ––– learning that “really matters in the long run”. Course learning outcomes describe what the learners will be able to do at the end of the course—when they have integrated learning from the whole course. Each course learning outcome should align with one or more of the program learning outcomes.
Some Questions to Consider when Reviewing Course Learning Outcomes
Here are some questions to think about when developing or reviewing course learning outcomes.
- Are you aware of the program outcomes and how this course contributes to them?
- Do the learning outcomes identified for this course align with the expected learning in other courses in the program of study?
- Are the course learning outcomes clearly stated?
- Are the course learning outcomes clearly aligned to program outcomes? (eg: post secondary: vocational standards, essential employability skills, apprenticeship: apprenticeship standards). This is dependent upon the type of program in which you teach.
- Is the performance described in the outcome significant? Will it really matter in the long run?
- Can you envision how the learners will demonstrate their achievement of these learning outcomes?
- Will these course learning outcomes guide the development of learning activities and the selection of concepts and skills to be learned?