What's the Difference Between Learning Outcomes and Learning Objectives? Learning Objectives: •tend to describe specific, discrete units of knowledge and skill •were useful during the 1970's and 1980's when attempts were made to describe workplace activities as specific tasks to be completed •can be accomplished within a short time frame - still may be relevant for a class period •tend to be statements of intent; do not necessarily suggest that the behaviour has been demonstrated Learning Outcomes: describe broad aspects of behaviour which incorporate a wide range of knowledge and skill •increased use in the 1990's when workplace requirements involve broader skillsets which are transferable to a wide range of work settings •accomplished over time in several learning experiences •refer to demonstrations of performance ________________________________________ More about the difference between Learning Outcomes and Course Objectives Learning outcomes tend to represent the "big picture" as opposed to the specific details and discrete aspects or chunks of performance.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, the emphasis was on a person doing specific job tasks which required specific knowledge for an extended period of time. In contrast, rapid technological changes of the 1990’s require that the worker readily and repeatedly adapt to new job skill requirements which emphasize an ability to focus on broader concepts. As part of this new workplace structure, the ability to work in teams has been increasingly emphasized. Curriculum design trends have undergone similar transformations.
Behavioural objectives of the 60’s and 70’s which described very specific and detailed aspects of behaviour, have now been replaced with the broader learning outcomes statements that incorporate broader aspects of performances. These performances have a variety of knowledge, skills and attitudes embedded within them. Contrast the following behavioural objective statement: •Given a paragraph of ten sentences, the student will be able to identify ten rules of grammar which are used in its construction with the Learning Outcomes statement: The student will have reliably demonstrated the ability to use the conventions of grammar when creating paragraphs. How might the learning activities and methods of assessment differ in view of the two statements? As another example, consider the following statements: Learning Objective: At the end of this class, the learner will be able to: •Define affirmative action; •Describe three factors which promote affirmative action in the workplace. Learning Outcome: At the end of this course the learner will have reliably demonstrated the ability to develop affirmative action programs within a workplace environment.
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What differences can you see between these statements? Differences L. O. is a much broader performance statement L. O. represents an end stage of performance Learning outcomes are not written at the class level since they represent broad, statements which incorporate many areas of inter-related knowledge and skill that may be developed over time through a wide range of experiences. Class room or short learning sessions would address course learning outcomes, but not be considered sufficient opportunity for the student to achieve the outcome in a single episode of learning.
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