Learning outcomes are now a feature of higher education; all of our University courses are described by the 'intended learning outcomes' of the programmes of study. We describe learning outcomes at:
- Programme level within Programme Specifications
- Module level within Definitive Module Documents (DMD)
- Teaching session level within presentation material or the module handbook
In addition to this, the module handbook provides an opportunity to show students which module learning outcomes are assessed by which piece of assessment.
What are learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes are a description of what you can typically expect of a student at the end of the process; whether programme, module or session. Well written learning outcomes should lead to a more student-centred approach: it marks a shift from the content (namely, what staff members teach) towards its outcome (in other words, what the student is able to do on successful completion). They also help students understand what is expected of them, in turn helping them to succeed in their studies.
The learning outcomes, and the way in which they are achieved, are approved at validation and periodic review. They are regularly monitored by our External Examiners, who pass judgements on our academic standards by observing the achievement of learning outcomes and understanding of the curriculum by our students.
Alignment is critical with learning outcomes; intended programme learning outcomes should align with module learning outcomes, and these in turn should show clear alignment with the assessment criteria for the module which are tested with appropriate assessment tasks. This is called “Constructive Alignment” and it not only makes the learning, teaching and assessment process clear for students, it also helps us to ensure that there is coherence in our programmes.
Key external reference documents:
UK Quality Code for Higher Education Part A: Setting and maintaining threshold academic standards (QAA) – which includes the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)
Subject Benchmark statements
Writing Learning Outcomes
This folder contains some basic guidance on writing learning outcomes
John Biggs articles (1212.3kb)
More about constructive alignment and learning outcomes
SEEC credit level descriptors (492.4kb)