|Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes|
What the Students Will Learn ...
Student learning objectives are a critical component of creating a successful learning experience. In a student-centered environment, student learning objectives refer to expected or intended student outcomes. In essence, learning outcomes are what you want students to have learned upon completion of the course. Everything students do (and you do) in the course should be linked to student learning outcomes. Although related to course content, student learning objectives go beyond content. Student learning objectives describe what you want students to learn and understand, not what material you are going to cover.
Blooming in the Learning Environment
Bloom’s taxonomy identifies six levels in the cognitive domain of learning. From lowest to highest, these levels are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Bloom, 1956). Student learning outcomes can be categorized using these cognitive levels.
Linking Outcomes and Assessment
Explicit learning objectives serve as a course design starting point for the instructor, and at the same time tell students (the end-users of the syllabus) exactly how they should focus their learning efforts during a course. When course goals are expressed in terms of student learning outcomes, assessment and evaluation efforts can be directly linked to learning objectives. Wiggins and McTighe (1998) have developed this approach to course development, known as “backward design”:
Backward design may be thought of as purposeful task analysis: Given a task to be accomplished, how do we get there?... what would we accept as evidence that students have attained the desired understandings and proficiencies? (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998, p. 8)ESS syllabi from Lehigh University, University of Northern Colorado, and University of New Hampshire demonstrate the backward design approach.
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