I hope that by the time you’re reading this, you’re fully enjoying winter break—spending time safely at home, perhaps trying out a new hobby (sourdough starter, anyone?), or getting caught up on some much needed sleep. As you slowly come out of winter break hibernation, you’ll likely start to think about the classes you’ll be teaching spring semester. This semester will be a bit different, with classes starting on Tuesday, January 19th and being held entirely online until February 7th. With all of us starting our classes online, it is more important than ever that we communicate clearly with our students about course expectations. One way we can do so is through clear learning outcomes written in our course syllabi.
Learning outcomes are statements that tell students what they should be able to do at the end of a period of time (like a course section or class period). These statements are student-centered, rather than instructor-centered. This means they are speaking to what students will be able to do/produce/explain, rather than what role the instructor will take. It is important that learning outcomes are measurable and often observable.
To better explain what measurable means, let’s look at some examples from our webpage on learning outcomes:
Hard to measure: Students will be exposed to the major folklore genres of Indiana.
Measurable: By the end of this course, students will be able to analyze an example of Indiana folklore that is unfamiliar to them, using appropriate research and writing techniques.
SPEA – Public Affairs
Hard to Measure: I want students to see how urban problems are important in their own lives.
Measurable: Students will be able to invent and defend a solution to an urban problem that is relevant to their own city, town, or campus.
If you want to learn more about creating a syllabus, watch this short, 5-minute video explaining backwards course design and how to create learning outcomes using Bloom’s Taxonomy.