the actual site

CUT AND PASTED -- not all that easy to read, but I can't get the link to the site to work.


Guide to Writing
Module Learning Outcomes
at DCU
Learning Innovation Unit,
Dublin City University Contents:
Introduction and Foreword 3
What are Learning Outcomes? 4
General Guidelines for Writing Learning Outcomes 5
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing your
Module Learning Outcomes
6
Addressing Common Problems Associated
with Writing Module Learning Outcomes
7
Domains of Learning and Choosing Action Verbs 10
Action Verbs Categorised by Learning Domains 11
Optional Critiquing Exercise 14
Bibliography 15 Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 3
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Introduction and Foreword
Higher Education institutions are obliged under the Bologna Agreement to adopt a learning outcomes
approach by 2010. At DCU, learning improvement rather than compliance is the motivation for the
Academic Framework for Innovation (AFI), the project under which the Bologna requirements are
being met. If you wish to learn more about the context of Bologna and what it means to DCU you
should read the accompanying document Setting the Scene for Learning Outcomes in DCU.
A learning outcomes approach puts the focus on what the student will know, understand or be able to
demonstrate on completion of a programme of study, and uses this as the determinant for course
content, learning activities and assessment.
The purpose of these guidelines is to assist Module Co-ordinators in DCU in the writing of module
learning outcomes. Each DCU school has appointed one or more AFI Fellows, who will also act as a
point of contact in relation to any questions or concerns you have when writing your module learning
outcomes. I would like to thank the Fellows for their work in this process to date and Morag Munro and
Margaret Keane in the Learning Innovation Unit for their work on the guidelines and other resources.
The input of the Associate Deans for Education / Teaching and Learning to the work is also highly
appreciated.
Identifying and selecting your desired learning outcomes for a module presents the perfect opportunity
to influence learning at DCU and your participation in this process is very much valued.
Martin Henry,
AFI Project, OVPLI Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 4
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
WHAT ARE LEARNING OUTCOMES?
While learning outcomes at programme or award level are
broad, module learning outcomes are more specific in
describing what the student will be able to do. They
determine the content, delivery and assessment of each
module and along with other modules meet the programme
outcomes.
Module learning outcomes serve the following purposes:
• To inform students of what is expected of them.
• To guide the lecturer in his or her approach to delivery
of content and assessment that focuses on what the
student will be able to do as a result of the learning.
• To influence the domain and level of learning required
of the delivery and assessment.
• To fulfil the requirements of one or more programme
outcomes.
Objectives are statements of what the lecturer intends for
the students and are generally part of a teacher-centred
approach.
Learning outcomes are statements of what the student will
be able to do or demonstrate as a result of their learning and
hence are part of a student-centred approach.
What is the difference between module learning outcomes and objectives?
Example of an Objective:
Students will be taught the basic principles of
database searching.
Example of a Learning Outcome:
Students will be able to apply the principles of
database searching in a review of literature.
“Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to
know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of a
process of learning.” Source: ECTS Users’ Guide, 2005.
Example of a Programme Learning Outcome:
Upon successful completion of the programme a
student will be able to critically evaluate problems and
alternative solutions in a wide variety of business and
organisational contexts in different socio-cultural and
political environments.
Example of a Module Learning Outcome:
On successful completion of the module students will
be able to discuss how information technology can be
used to help business organisations to succeed in their
objectives.
What is the difference between module learning outcomes and programme learning outcomes? Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 5
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
As a general guide learning outcomes should:
• Be preceded with:
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to …
• Begin with an action verb and describe something (knowledge, skill or attitude) that is
observable or measurable.
• Use one action verb for each learning outcome.
• Focus on what you expect students to be able to demonstrate upon completion of the module.
• Be addressed in some way by the assessment for the module.
• Be written in clear short sentences.
• Be written to be understood by students, colleagues and external bodies.
• Be free of ambiguous words and phrases.
• Be neither too broad nor too specific - broad is at programme level, specific at lecture level.
General Guidelines for Writing Module Learning Outcomes
T
he guidelines below are based on commonly accepted guidelines for writing module learning
outcomes. It is important to note that this is not a set of steadfast rules and there will be exceptions
where individual guidelines may not be appropriate. The section on Addressing Common Problems
Associated with Module Learning Outcomes (p7) refers to some exceptions.
In DCU, Learning Outcomes describe the knowledge, skills and competencies
that a typical learner is expected to demonstrate upon successful completion of a
process of learning.Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 6
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
To begin, take the list of current outcomes for the module from the existing module descriptor (or any other
document if you have revised them). If you do not have an existing set of outcomes follow the instruction for writing a
new set below. Also, have with you a copy of current assessments for the module that contribute to the final mark
(examination paper, assignment briefs etc).
Step 2 Check all demonstrable elements of assessments are included
1.Check through the current assessment instruments (continuous and terminal) for the module and list broadly what
the assessment is asking students to demonstrate as a result of their learning on the module.
2.Revise your new list of outcomes to reflect any changes as a result of checking the assessment or to add a new
statement for any element that is missing.
Step 3 Rewrite outcomes as Learning Outcomes
Choose an action verb for each outcome that will best reflect what
students are required to demonstrate. Be careful to choose a verb
that reflects the type and level of learning you wish the student to be able to demonstrate.
Step 4 Critique your set of Learning Outcomes
Use the General Guidelines on page 5 to critique your set of learning outcomes and make final revisions.
You may find it useful here also to use
the section on Addressing Common
Problems on page 7.
A Step-by-step Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes
If you DO NOT have an existing
set of outcomes begin here
Step 1 Write 4 to 6 Statements
1. In language comprehensible to a typical student, write 4
to 6 statements of what it is a student would be expected
to be able to demonstrate as a consequence of the
learning associated with the module.
2. Use this new set of statements (outcomes) as your basis.
If you DO have an existing
set of outcomes begin here
Step 1 Rephrase existing as statements
1. Take the existing set of outcomes/objectives.
2. Write, in language comprehensible to a typical student,
what it is the student would be expected to be able to
demonstrate as a consequence of the learning associated
with each.
3. Use this new set of statements (outcomes) as your basis.
You may find it useful here to read the
following section on Domains of Learning
and Choosing Action Verbs (page 10).Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 7
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Addressing Common Problems Associated with
Writing Module Learning Outcomes
O
ne approach to writing learning outcomes is to recognise and understand common problems. This
section takes you through an explanation of common problems associated with the writing of
learning outcomes and offers examples and solutions. It also demonstrates how to critique a set of
learning outcomes for common problems as a means to preparing you to write your own.
You may find it useful to use the Critiquing
Exercise on page 14 to identify these
common problems in a module before you
begin work on your own learning module
learning outcomes.
Common Problems:
1. Language is too vague or too specific for module level
2. Use of ambiguous words and phrases
3. There are too many learning outcomes
4. There are too many verbs in one learning outcome
5. Overuse of the same verb
6. Inappropriate cognitive level
7. Use of progression
8. Learning outcomes are not realistic
9. Learning outcomes that are not, or cannot be, assessed
1. Language is too vague or too specific for
module level
This is where learning outcomes are either written at a
broad level more suitable for a programme or where the
language is too prescriptive describing actions of a student
that may be achievable at the end of a specific lecture
rather than an entire module.
Example of an outcome that is too broad:
Students will be able to identify and demonstrate the
dynamic nature of the environment in which marketing
decisions are taken.
Example of an outcome that is too specific:
Students will be able to outline the functions of
marketing within a financial institution.
2. Use of ambiguous words and phrases
This refers to the use of vague terms like know,
understand, learn, be familiar with, be exposed to, be
acquainted with, be aware of, appreciate, etc.
The main problem with using these verbs/phrases is that
they are not universally understood so students or another
lecturer may interpret them differently.
Questions to consider are: how can you be sure that
the students know or understand? and how can they
demonstrate that they know or understand?
Example of an outcome with ambiguous words:
Students will be able to understand the function,
structure and components of the musculoskeletal
system.
Suggested alternative:
Students will be able to explain the function, structure
and components of the musculoskeletal system.
Tips:
• Focus on what the student will actually be able to
demonstrate.
• Look at the verbs used in the relating element of the
assessment as a guide.
• Use the verbs list at the back of the guidelines for
alternative verbs.Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 8
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Addressing Common Problems contd.
3. There are too many learning outcomes
It is recommended at module level to have between four
and six learning outcomes.
4. Too many verbs in one learning outcome
Too many action verbs in one learning outcome can be
confusing as it may not be clear which action is the most
important for the student to be required to demonstrate.
In the example opposite, consider if the focus for this
outcome is on whether students can work in groups or
whether they can apply basic principles and how this
outcome is, or should be, assessed.
NOTE:
There may be instances, where two verbs are co-dependent
and consequently relevant to one learning outcome as seen in
the example below:
Tips:
• If you have too many outcomes you may want to
consider whether some of the learning outcomes
could be combined.
• You may decide that a particular outcome is more
relevant to a specific lecture than the entire
module in which case you may wish to remove it.
• Use your assessment and what it is measuring to
prompt you.
Tips:
• You may want to question whether some of the
outcomes could be combined.
• You may decide that a particular outcome is more
relevant to an individual lecture than the entire
module and remove it.
• Use your assessment and what it is measuring to
lead you to the most relevant verb.
Example of outcome with too many verbs:
Students will have worked in small groups and
considered the application of basic principles to
different industrial processes.
Students will be able to recognise and solve problems
relating to the basic concepts of chemical reactions.
5. Overuse of the same verb
In some cases, particularly when finding an alternative for
ambiguous words/phrases such as know, understand or be
familiar with, there can be a tendency to find a
solution for one learning outcome and repeat it for
others.
NOTE:
In some disciplines such as maths there may be a need for
repetitive use of words such as ‘solve’ or ‘calculate’ where there
is no alternative required or possible.
Tips:
• Ask what the learning outcome requires the
student to demonstrate to ensure that what is
required of the student determines the chosen verb.
• Use the verbs list at the back of the guidelines to
suggest verbs for different learning domains.
• When you replace a verb reconsider the domain of
learning it implies to ensure you do not alter the
level of learning or alignment to the assessment. Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 9
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Tip:
• Consider the workload and resources of both
yourself and your students in relation to each
learning outcome and the module learning
outcomes as a set.
6. Inappropriate cognitive level
This is where there is an over use of verbs that require
students to demonstrate knowledge where they may also
be required to demonstrate a deeper learning such as
analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
Tips:
• Choose the verb based on the relevant domain of
learning (see Domains of Learning on p9).
• Use the verb list at the back to select a verb relevant
to the level of learning required.
Suggested Alternative:
Students will be able to demonstrate a proficiency in
presentation skills.
7. Use of progression in learning outcomes
This is where a learning outcome refers to improvement
in learning or other phrases that imply progression.
Progression is difficult to measure as the student would
need to demonstrate levels of learning at varying points
of time. It may be best to remove the reference to
progression.
Example of progression in a learning outcome:
Students will have an increased proficiency in
presentation skills.
9. Outcomes that are not, or cannot, be assessed
As the traditional teacher-centred approach involved
writing objectives from the point of view of what the
lecturer intended to deliver, some learning outcomes can
address the delivery of content only and are not covered
anywhere in the assessment of the module.
Tips:
• Check that each learning outcome is addressed in
some way by assessment.
• Check that all elements of the assessment have
been included in the set of learning outcomes.
8. Learning outcomes that are not practical
This is where learning outcomes are not realisable due to
constraints of time and/or resources.
For example a learning outcome might demand an
assessment load too great for the students or for the
lecturer.
Addressing Common Problems contd. Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 10
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Domains of Learning and Choosing Action Verbs
W
hen writing learning outcomes you will need to decide what type of learning students will be
demonstrating by each learning outcome. Domains of learning are commonly used as a guide to
writing learning outcomes as they encompass the various levels of learning; the Cognitive
domain involving thought processes, the Affective domain involving attitudes and values, and the
Psychomotor domain involving physical skills. (Bloom et al, 1956). These domains are commonly referred
to as knowledge, skills and attitudes and are outlined in greater detail below.
The Cognitive Domain
If a learning outcome requires students to demonstrate
thought processes, the six categories of the cognitive
domain opposite will help you to decide what level of
cognition is required.
Use the list of verbs on page 11 to help you choose an
action verb relevant to this domain.
Knowledge
Student knows something and can
recall information (list, recall, draw,
write)
Comprehension
Student understands what they
know (describe, report, recognise)
Application
Student can apply something in a
different context (choose, find,
show)
Analysis
Student can break something down
into components (contrast, detect,
separate)
Synthesis
Student can create something new
through analysis (combine, create,
plan)
Evaluation
Student can make judgements
about something (Assess, argue,
rate)
The Affective Domain
If a learning outcome requires students to demonstrate
their attitudes or values or to integrate belief values, ideas
and attitudes of others they will be demonstrating learning
through the affective domain.
Choosing an action verb to demonstrate feelings and
emotions is not always easy. Use the list of verbs on
page 11 to help you choose an action verb relevant to this
domain.
Adhere Accept Defend
Integrate Judge Share
Appraise Practice Support
Question Value Discuss
Sample of verbs for the affective domain:
The Psychomotor Domain
If a learning outcome requires students to physically
demonstrate skills such as to conduct laboratory
experiments, music pieces, physical education techniques
or microteaching skills.
Writing learning outcomes in this domain is simpler as it
is easy to decide on an action verb for physical activities.
The list of action verbs on page 11 might help when
deciding on a relevant or alternative action verb in this
domain.
Adapt Adjust Build
Calibrate Construct Detect
Examine Measure Operate
Perform Refine Test
Sample of verbs for the psychomotor domain: Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 11
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Action Verbs Categorised by Learning Domains
COGNITIVE DOMAIN:
Learning which involves thought processes, e.g. understanding, analysing, evaluating. There are six categories in the
cognitive domain: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
Arrange Enumerate Name Recite Reproduce
Collect Examine Order Recognise Select
Count Find Outline Recollect Show
Define Identify Present Record State
Describe Label Point Recount Tabulate
Draw List Quote Relate Tell
Duplicate Match Recall Repeat Write
1. Knowledge:
2. Comprehension:
Associate Decode Explain Indicate Restate
Change Defend Express Infer Rewrite
Clarify Describe Extend Interpret Review
Classify Differentiate Extrapolate Locate Select
Compute Discriminate Generalise Paraphrase Specify
Construct Discuss Give examples Predict Solve
Contrast Distinguish Identify Recognise Summarise
Convert Estimate Illustrate Report Translate
3. Application:
Add Compute Experiment Operate Select
Apply Construct Find Organise Show
Assess Demonstrate Graph Plot Simulate
Calculate Develop Illustrate Practise Sketch
Change Discover Interpret Predict Solve
Choose Divide Interview Prepare Subtract
Classify Dramatise Manipulate Produce Transfer
Collect Employ Map Relate Translate
Complete Examine Modify Schedule Use Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 12
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
COGNITIVE DOMAIN contd..
Learning which involves thought processes, e.g. understanding, analysing, evaluating.
4. Analysis:
Analyse Connect Differentiate Group Point out
Appraise Contrast Discover Identify Question
Arrange Criticise Discriminate Illustrate Relate
Break down Debate Distinguish Infer Recognise
Calculate Deduce Divide Inspect Separate
Categorise Detect Draw conclusions Investigate Simplify
Classify Determine Examine Order Subdivide
Compare Develop Experiment Outline Test
5. Synthesis:
Argue Construct Generalise Order Reconstruct
Arrange Create Generate Organise Relate
Assemble Design Group Originate Reorganise
Categorise Develop Integrate Plan Revise
Collect Devise Invent Prepare Rewrite
Combine Establish Make Prescribe Set up
Compile Explain Manage Propose Summarise
Compose Formulate Modify Rearrange Synthesise
6. Evaluation:
Appraise Consider Discriminate Monitor Score
Ascertain Contrast Estimate Predict Select
Argue Convince Explain Persuade Standardise
Assess Criticise Evaluate Rank Summarise
Attach Critique Grade Rate Support
Award Decide Interpret Recommend Test
Choose Defend Judge Relate Validate
Compare Detect Justify Resolve Value
Conclude Determine Measure Revise Verify
Action Verbs Categorised by Learning Domains Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 13
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
AFFECTIVE DOMAIN
Learning which involves attitudes, feelings and values, e.g. appreciating, accepting.
Acknowledge Combine Display Justify Relate
Act Complete Dispute Listen Report
Adhere Conform Embrace Order Resolve
Ask Co-operate Follow Organise Respond
Accept Defend Hold Participate Share
Answer Demonstrate
(a belief in or an
appreciation of)
Initiate Practise Show
Assist Integrate Share Support
Attempt Differentiate Join Praise Synthesise
Challenge Discuss Judge Question Value
PSYCHOMOTOR DOMAIN
Learning which involves physical skills, e.g. performing, assembling, dismantling
Adapt Choreograph Dismantle Handle Organise
Adjust Combine Display Heat Perform
Administer Construct Dissect Manipulate Present
Alter Copy Drive Identify Refine
Arrange Design Estimate Measure Shorten
Assemble Deliver Examine Execute Sketch
Balance Detect Execute Mime Stretch
Bend Demonstrate Fix Mimic React
Build
Differentiate
(by touch)
Grasp Mix Test
Calibrate Deconstruct Grind Operate Use
Action Verbs Categorised by Learning Domains Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 14
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Sample of Problematic Module Outcome for Critiquing
The following set of Module Outcomes have some of the common problems outlined on page 7 of these
guidelines. Use this set of outcomes as an exercise to help you understand learning outcomes by
critiquing against the list of common problems on page 8 and checking against the general guidelines on
page 5.
Module Title: Marketing Management - Final Year Undergraduate
The module introduces and develops the concepts of marketing in a critical way and
focuses on the application of marketing conceptual frameworks.
Module Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

• Understand the role and functions of marketing within a range of organisations.
• Understand key marketing concepts, theories and techniques for analysing a variety of
marketing situations.
• Identify and demonstrate the dynamic nature of the environment in which marketing
decisions are taken and appreciate the implications for marketing strategy determination
and implementation.
• Use written formats to communicate marketing outcomes.
• Apply the introduced conceptual frameworks, theory and techniques to various marketing
contexts.
• Analyse the relevance of marketing concepts and theories in evaluating the impacts of
environmental changes on marketing planning, strategies and practices.
• Demonstrate the ability to carry out a research project that explores marketing planning
and strategies for a specific marketing situation.
• Synthesise ideas into a marketing plan.
• Demonstrate the ability to justify marketing strategies and advocate a strategically
informed position when considering marketing plan implementation.
• Manage themselves and members they work with in a team when undertaking independent
management study.
• Access skills that enable them to target and secure work placements.
Optional Critiquing Exercise:Margaret Keane, Learning Innovation Unit, DCU - April 2009 15
Guide to Writing Module Learning Outcomes at DCU
Bibliography
Adam, S. (2008) Learning Outcomes Current Developments in Europe: Update on the Issues and Applications of
Learning Outcomes Associated with the Bologna Process. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Presented to the Bologna
Seminar: Learning outcomes based higher education: the Scottish Experience (February 2008, Edinburgh). http://
www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/BolognaSeminars/documents/Edinburgh/
Edinburgh_Feb08_Adams.pdf
Adam, S. (2004) Using Learning Outcomes, Scottish Executive. Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/
Publications/2004/09/19908/42704.
Bloom, B.S., Englehart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, w. and Krathwohl, D. (1956) Taxonomy of educational
objectives volumes I and II: New York: McKay.
ECTS Users’ Guide (2005), Brussels: Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Available online at:
http://ec.europa.eu/education/index_en.htm
Kennedy, Hyland and Ryan (2006) Writing and Using Learning Outcomes: A Practical Guide. Bologna
Handbook C 3.4-1. Available from: http://www.bologna.msmt.cz/files/learning-outcomes.pdf
Moon, J. (2002) The Module and Programme Development handbook. Routledge: New York.
The Bologna Declaration of 19
th
June, 1999. Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education.
Available online at: http://www.bologna-bergen2005.no/Docs/00-Main_doc/990719BOLOGNA_DECLARATION.PDF
Useful Websites:
The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland: http://www.nqai.ie
Ireland’s National Information Site on the Bologna Process: http://www.bologna.ie
Biggs, J., and Tang, C. (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University. What the Student Does 3rd
Edition. Maidenhead UK: SRHE and Open University Press