Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

NEW articles, links, tips and how-tos in higher education

Issue #10 - Learning Outcomes

May 8, 2018

Focusing on outcomes and behaving in a consistent and constructive manner enhances our impact on those around us.

There are two questions in the Subject Experience Survey that mention learning outcomes:

Q. 5. The learning outcomes of this subject were made clear to me; and

Q 14. I could see a clear connection between the learning outcomes, learning activities and the assessment tasks in this subject.

At CSU, we have strategies and resources to ensure positive experiences of learning outcomes for our students, including the newly-designed Subject Outlines Tool and the Assessment workshops and learning resources provided by the Division of Learning and Teaching and through the CSU wiki.csu.edu.au (see details below). What teaching strategies do you use to highlight the learning outcomes in your subject and incorporate them into your lesson plans and learning activities?

This week’s bulletin is the next in our series examining teaching strategies that support the nine Dimensions of Teaching (Crisp et al., 2009 – see below).

Dimension 4: Students are aware of the key learning outcomes.

Sara Fulmer published a guest post on the blog The Learning Scientists. The small illustration on the right-hand side of this week's photo gallery (above) introduced her post. Click on the image to view an enlarged version.

Should I share my learning outcomes with my students?

By Dr Sara M. Fulmer
Source: http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2017/10/4-1?rq=learning%20outcomes

“Why Are We Doing This?” Establishing Relevance to Enhance Student Learning

By Jeff Fox


In her blog post, Sara Fulmer responds to the question: “Is there any evidence to support sharing written learning outcomes prior to teaching a topic?” Jeff Fox responds to the question: “Why are we doing this?” The combination of these two short articles provides the background to today’s main list of tips.

QUOTE: ... When students understand clearly the value, purpose, and procedures for (subject) activities and the logic by which teachers arrived at their design, they are more likely to see the value of what they are being asked to learn and consequently will participate more fully in the (subject).

Strategies for establishing relevance and sharing learning outcomes

  • Discuss the learning outcomes in the first lesson/module of a subject.
  • Regularly share and discuss the learning outcomes of the subject.
  • Ensure that students understand the learning outcomes. Ask questions like:

  1. Using your own words, what does this outcome mean?
  2. How will I know if I’ve achieved this outcome?
  3. Why do you think it’s important that we learn this?
  4. How does this learning outcome relate to something we’ve already learned?

  • State the intended learning outcomes at the start of each lesson/module. Learning outcomes can be presented through a variety of media – on a slide, posted on the whiteboard for the duration of the lesson, on handouts, in the Subject Outline, in the introduction to a learning module.
  • Orient students at the beginning of each class period by discussing the “What, Why, and How” of that day.

  1. What? What are we doing in class today? What questions will we try to answer? What concepts will we address? What questions will we answer? What activities will we do?
  2. Why? Why are we studying this? How are today’s content and activities tied to the subject learning outcomes? What should I know or be able to do after today’s class? How can the information and skills be used in everyday life?
  3. How? How are we going to address the content? Will we use lectures? Activities? Discussions? How will different learning styles be accommodated?

  • Clearly tie the learning outcomes to the learning activities and assessment tasks.
  • Introduce learning outcomes during pre-assessment by asking students to rate their confidence and current knowledge or skill related to the learning outcome.
  • Check for the achievement of learning outcomes. At the end of the topic or module, ask students to write the answer to the question: “What do you think you were supposed to learn from this topic/module?”

I recommend that you read these two short articles for yourself to access other advice, graphics, checklists and references supplied by these two authors. Dr Fulmer’s blog post is 1,030 words, plus references. Jeff Fox’s article is a 605-word excerpt from a Teaching Professor article.

Other content includes

What are learning outcomes? This includes a useful checklist for determining the effectiveness of your learning outcomes and provides useful links to writing learning outcomes.

Why share learning outcomes? This includes the table posted below of Benefits of Learning Outcomes for Teachers.

How to share learning outcomes with students. This includes a sample chart for assessing student perceptions of learning outcomes.

Another recent article from Faculty Focus by Magna Pubs:

Learning Objectives: Where We Start and Where We End

By Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Creative Course Design: Yes You Can!

By Ken Alford, PhD and Anthony Sweat, PhD

Source: https://www.magnapubs.com/magna-commons/?video=14820

(See Magna Commons instructions below for free CSU subscription instructions to this source)

In this engaging and entertaining 53-minute webinar, Ken Alford and Anthony Sweat discuss the main challenges to creative (subject) course design and they present strategies to overcome these challenges. They look at

Exploring your subject

  • Develop an overview of what you want to do with the class and your reasons for the way you are doing it.
  • Take account of the stage of the course and the type of students in the subject.
  • Let your "overarching metaphor" for your subject guide its development.
  • Borrow (or steal) and modify good ideas for your own use - remember to attribute the source!

Developing your subject

  • Clearly define the purpose of the subject.
  • Identify and/or develop your subject learning outcomes (at the 20:30 minute mark).
  • Constructively align learning outcomes, learning activities, assessment tasks.
  • Capitalise on YOUR strengths.

Presenting your lessons

  • Understand what "active learning" really means.
  • Creative design requires trade-offs - with a finite time for your lesson or module, when you add something, you have to remove something (at the 42:30 minute mark).
  • Tweak and tune - don't throw out the whole subject because one lesson doesn't work!
  • Add memorable lesson nuggets.
  • Tell "good" stories to drive concepts home.

Creating your assessments (at the 45:00 minute mark)

  • Watch the Professor Dance-a-Lot video - linked from Supplementary material.
  • Practice: SMART.
  • Wherever possible, provide alternate ways for students to: prepare for class, share what they are learning, demonstrate mastery.

Be flexible

  • What if it doesn't work? Get feedback from students and from peers.

Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download from the Magna Commons website if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.

CC0 Creative Commons

Dimensions of Teaching

Dimension 4: Students are aware of key learning outcomes

Indicative teaching strategies for demonstrating this dimension may include:

  • ensuring students are progressively aware of key learning outcomes
  • focussing on learning outcomes at key points in the presentation
  • ensuring a synthesis of key learning outcomes is emphasised towards the conclusion of the session so that individual student follow-up work is well focussed
  • encouraging each student to accept responsibility for learning issues to follow-up and consolidate
  • ensuring students are aware of the link between key learning outcomes and assessment (formative and summative), as appropriate

Adapted from: Crisp, G. et al (2009) Peer Review of Teaching for Promotion Purposes: a project to develop and implement a pilot program of external Peer Review of Teaching at four Australian universities, University of Adelaide, an ALTC-funded project, 2007-8. Final Project Report June 2009. Thanks to RMIT and UNSW.

The nine Dimensions of Teaching are the key focus areas that underpin the main elements in the Peer Review of Teaching Practice templates used at CSU for both formative teaching development or to evidence your teaching in, for example, your promotion application.

(See Peer Review of Educational Practice at CSU).

Learning Outcome Design and Implementation support resources at CSU

You have access to a range of quality CSU resources to help ensure that students are aware of key learning outcomes. Check out the following:

Constructive Alignment - in the Assessment, Moderation and Benchmarking website

Writing Good Learning Outcomes - these excellent "hands-on" workshops are conducted by Division of Learning and Teaching staff. Watch the Professional Learning Calendar for the next round of workshops in 201860. The link takes you to recordings of recent sessions.

Resources for Learning and Teaching Academic and Professional Staff - searchable CSU database

Learning Technologies - the starting point for a range of learning design options

CSU Learning Exchange: Technologies in Context - a searchable database to promote online learning and teaching strategies

The CSU wiki - a faculty-based source of learning and teaching information and strategies

Regular seminars on teaching-related topics are listed on the

CSU Professional Learning Calendar - accessed directly here

or from the Division of Learning and Teaching front page - accessed here

CSU Professional Learning Calendar: QA for Subect Outlines (Subject outline quality assurance) NEW subject outline tool.

Adobe Connect sessions 9 May and 10 May 2018 at 1:00 pm

Bonus CSU resource - Lynda.com for Learning Outcomes

All CSU students and staff members have access to Lynda.com, an online subscription library that teaches the latest business, creative and software skills through high-quality instructional videos.

A search for 'learning outcomes' with a filter for Higher Education returned 162 results ranging from general teaching tips, to keynote lectures, to the specifics of various tools and applications for building on prior learning.


Magna Commons

All staff with a CSU email address have free access to our new

CSU subscription to the Magna Commons series of online seminars

Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.

How to subscribe

Staff with a CSU email address can obtain the Magna Commons CSU subscription code from Ellen McIntyre elmcintyre@csu.edu.au

Magna Commons suggests these seminars to watch in the coming month:

Whether creating a single lecture, a course (= CSU subject), a program (= CSU course), or a curriculum, this month’s focus is designing effective and meaningful educational experiences. Below are some seminars related to success:

- Practical Strategies to Improve Student Retention in Online Classes

- Dealing with Student Behaviors that Compromise Learning

Links to previous bulletins

Folder with all previous issues.

Issue#1 Group Work: Seven Strategies to Enhance Learning through Group Work

Issue#2 Engagement: 10 Ways to Engage Your Students on the First Day of Class
Issue#3 Engagement: Motivate, Engage, and Inspire: Tips for Teaching Modern Learners

Issue#4 Academic Integrity: Why Students Cheat and What We Can Do About It

Issue#5 Feedback: Efficient and Effective Feedback in the Online Classroom

Issue#6 Feedback: Leveraging Technology to Support Effective Assessment Feedback Practices

Issue#7 Active Engagement: Three Strategies for Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences

Issue#8 Building on Prior Learning: How the Brain Learns: Implications for Teaching & Learning

Issue#9 Student Diversity: Using Brief Interventions to Maximize Student Learning

FoBJBS Newsletter: BOLD Issue#15

FoA&E Newsletter: NeXus Issue#2


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