Outcomes-based Teaching and Learning : What and How. Part 1 Professor John Biggs. Outcomes-based Education (OBE). There are three main forms of “OBE”. All focus on educational outcomes but each is based on a different philosophy. It’s easy to confuse them.
Outcomes-based Teaching and Learning: What and How
Professor John Biggs
There are three main forms of “OBE”. All focus on
educational outcomes but each is based on a different
philosophy. It’s easy to confuse them.
1. Outcome-based Education at school level. Originally
for disadvantaged children, but later used generally e.g. Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC) for individualising teaching.
2. Outcomes-based Education. Outcomes at institutional level, used for benchmarking, credit-transfer.
3. Outcomes-based Teaching and Learning (OBTL). Defining learning outcomes at course and subject level,
to enhance teaching and learning.
Most US institutions now have a set of outcomes statements using this ‘taxonomy’:
This is used to map outcomes across institutions, for the purposes of quality assurance at the institutional level, benchmarking, cross-institutional credit transfer, and for employers and other external stakeholders. Has little directly to do with enhancing teaching and learning
“The UGC’s goal in promoting outcome-based approaches is simple and straightforward—improvement and enhancement in student learning and teaching quality.” (Alice Lam, May 06)
OBTL, in other words.
“We think that the curriculum revision under '3 + 3 + 4' will be a good opportunity to weave 'outcomes' into the new curriculum.”
The UGC also plans to provide encouragement in the form of extra funding to promote early adoption.
How well has
Outcomes-based Teaching and Learning (OBTL): Classroom Based
has met the
student in the
verb in the ILO
What the student
has to learn
Implementing OBTL using Constructive Alignment
There are four steps in designing such teaching:
1. describe intended outcomes in the form of standards students are to attain using appropriate learning verbs.
2. create a learning environment likely to bring about the intended outcomes.
3. use assessment tasks enabling you to judge if and how well students’ performances meet the criteria.
4. transform these judgments into standard grading criteria.
Teaching / Learning Alignment
Large class activities
Small class activities
as best suits context
Format such that
the target verbs are
Criteria clearly allow
judgement as to the
quality of the
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
expressed as verbs students have to enact
The very best understanding that could be
reasonably expected: verbs such as
hypothesise, apply to “far” domains,
generate, relate to principle, etc.
Highly satisfactory understanding: verbs
such as explain, solve, understand main
ideas, analyze, compare, etc.
Quite satisfactory learning, with under-
standing at a declarative level: verbs such
as elaborate, classify, cover topics a to n,
Understanding at a level that would
warrant a Pass: low level verbs, also
inadequate but salvageable higher level
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) Alignment
. Statements of what students are expected to be
able to do as a result of engaging in the learning process (studying a course/programme).
. Expressed from the students' perspective.
. Expressed in the form of action verbs leading to observable and assessable behaviour.
. Related to criteria for assessing student performance.
The Verbs in the ILOs Alignment
Distinction between Teaching Objectives and Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
Teaching objective (aims)
What the teacher intends to do.
e.g. Introduce university teachers to outcomes-based teaching and learning
Intended learning outcomes (for the participants)
What the participants are expected to be able to do
having been introduced to OBTL
e.g. 1. Distinguish between outcomes-based education and outcomes-based teaching and learning.
2. Explain how constructive alignment is used to design teaching and assessment methods.
3. Write an ILO for a subject they are currently teaching.
Levels of ILOs Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
What are the attributes of an ideal graduate of BU?
What are the intended learning outcomes for students enrolled in the degree course?
What are the intended learning outcomes for students taking a particular subject at a particular level within the course?
Subject ILOs Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
Course and Subject ILOs
Alignment between the course and subject ILOs
1. Are the ILOs aligned?
2. Do the subject ILOs appropriately address the course ILOs?
3. Are the weightings appropriate?
4. Are there any gaps?
Distinguish the Learning Outcomes (ILOs) kind of knowledge you want
. Knowing about things
. Knowledge we can declare to someone in
writing or telling
e.g. ‘Distinguish between OBE and OBTL’
. Knowledge we put to work in solving a physics problem, analysing a case study, designing a building, making an argument
e.g. ‘Write an ILO for a subject you are currently teaching’
Procedures in designing Subject ILOs Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
1. Decide what kind of knowledge is to be taught -
Declarative or functioning.
2.Select the topics to be taught.
3. Decide the levels of understanding the students are expected to achieve for the different topics.
4. Consider if all the ILOs are of equal importance.
5. Ensure a clear understanding and agreement of the ILOs within the teaching team and other relevant parties e.g. External Reviewer.
6. Communicate the ILOs to students.
Create Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
. . . .
Perform serial skills
The SOLO Taxonomy with
sample verbs indicating levels of understanding
one relevant several relevant integrated into generalized to
aspect independent aspects a structure new domain
Prestructural Unistructural Multistructural Relational Extended Abstract
Levels of Understanding / Performance Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
Unistructural identify, name, state (a principle), select
Multistructural combine, collate, describe, extract, give an account of, list, present, report on
Relational analyze, apply, argue, compare/contrast, criticize, discuss, explain, justify, organize, relate
Extended abstract create, formulate, generate, hypothesize,
* Some of the lower levels could be subsumed into the higher levels. E.g. To apply appropriate communicative strategies in reading and writing to different tasks will subsume the lower level ILOs such as identify, name and select.
Some vague ILO verbs Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
Become aware of
How do these verbs manifest themselves in terms of change of behaviour or standards of / performance?
A Sample Set of Subject ILOs Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
Subject: Communicative strategies
Aims: Develop appropriate communicative strategies and improve students' general level of proficiency in English
Intended learning outcomes (some examples):
1. Explain different strategies used in communication.
2. Apply appropriate strategies in different modes of communication.
3. Reflect on and improve own communicative strategies.
Designing Teaching/Learning Activities to align with Intended Learning Outcomes
Having designed Course ILOs and the
Subject ILOs, we now need to activate the verbs or learning activities embedded in the ILOs by designing suitable Teaching/Learning Activities that will
facilitate students achieving the ILOs.
There are many alternatives to lectures and tutorials, even in large classes.
Four common teaching situations and associated teaching and learning activities
SituationTeaching activitiesLearning activities
LECTURE talk, explain, clarify listen, take notes, accept, query, discuss with peers, one-minute paper
TUTORIAL set/answer questions pre-read, prepare questions, provide feedback learn from peers, critique, analyse
PROJECT set brief, ongoing apply, create, self-monitor feedback communicate, teamwork
PBL set problems set learning goals, design, apply,
accessing desired integrate, solve problems content, skills
What teaching/learning activities will best facilitate your ILOs?
Describe set reading, lecture, field trip
Explain tutorial, written essay
Integrate project, assignment
Apply project, case study
Solve problem PBL, case study
Design, create project, creative writing
Hypothesise experiment, project
Reflect reflective diary
The point is not how you are going to teach but how and what you want your students tolearn.
NOTE! Many of these TLAs can be assessment tasks as well. Then you have excellent alignment.
Adjusting TLAs to Relative Importance of ILOs learning activities
1. Explain different (writing) communicative strategies.
TLAs: a. Plenary session (‘lectures’)
Teaching activities - describe, explain, elaborate, clarify
Learning activities - pre-reading, ask questions, group
discussion, explain to peers
b. Write assignment
Teaching activities - set topics and guidelines, provide feedback
Learning activities - explain the strategies in the assignment
There may be other TLAs which will engage students in
explaining different writing communicative strategies.
2. Apply appropriate (writing) communicative strategies
TLAs: a. Case study
Teaching activities - select case study material (may be), provide comments and feedback
Learning activities - select piece of writing for case study, discuss with peers in small groups, analyse, comment, suggest ways of improvement, present own ideas or discussion results in an individual written assignment
b. Write an assignment or a group discussion report
Teaching activities - set topic (may be), give guideline of requirements of the assignment (relate requirements to relevant ILOs), provide feedback
Learning activities - write the assignment using appropriate strategies, revise, edit, self-assess
There may be other TLAs which will engage students in applying
appropriate strategies in a range of writing tasks.
3. Reflect and improve own writing communicative strategies.
Teaching activities - provide feedback
Learning activities - self-evaluate a piece of own writing, e.g. an earlier assignment in relation to theories on writing communicative strategies, identify strengths and areas for improvement, revise writing using appropriate strategies in light of evaluation
There may be other TLAs which will engage students in
reflecting and improving their own writing strategies.