Developing objectives and learning outcomes for the

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Developing objectives
and learning outcomes
for the evaluation of
learning
InfoSkills2 FOLIO course
Introduction…
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In the last briefing, ‘Evaluating learning’
(http://www.nelh.nhs.uk/folio/infoskills2/learning.htm), we
saw that one way to evaluate learning is by setting
assignments for trainees
To aid the evaluation of learning, it is useful to match the
assessment criteria by which you will mark assignments
with the objectives and learning outcomes of the training
course
Objectives, learning outcomes and assessment criteria
should be created during the design of information skills
training courses. For more information about designing
training courses, see the ‘Designing information skills
training courses’ briefing from the previous InfoSkills
course at:
http://www.nelh.nhs.uk/folio/infoskills/methods.htm
Objectives and learning
outcomes
So… what are objectives and
learning outcomes and how do we
create them?
What are objectives?
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Objectives are…
“An expression in concrete and specific
terms of what will happen on the course.
The specific activities which participants will
undertake on the course in order to achieve
the stated aims” (1).
“Note: not what will be learned, that comes
next, but what will be done” (1).
Objectives usually start with the phrase “By
the end of this training course, participants
will be familiar with…” (or similar)
Examples of objectives…
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For a literature searching course (2)…
By the end of this session, participants will be
familiar with:
the names, coverage and content of the core health
and health-related databases including Medline,
CINAHL and Embase
the types of information that can be identified through
interrogation of these databases
the process of developing a research question into
an effective search strategy including the
identification of keywords, concepts and synonyms
the techniques and skills required to conduct a
database search including the use of a controlled
language thesaurus, truncation, boolean operators
and explosion
Examples of objectives…
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For a ‘searching for health information on the internet’
course (2)…
By the end of this session, participants will be familiar with:
the various components of the Internet, such as electronic
mail and the World Wide Web
the basic structure of, and methods of navigating, the World
Wide Web
the types of information which are available through the
internet
the strengths and weaknesses of the Internet as an
information resource
criteria that can be used to evaluate the quality of internetbased information
examples of resources which can be used to find evidence to
support research and practice
the techniques and skills needed to find resources on the
internet; including the use of information gateways, search
engines and resource lists
Examples of objectives…
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For a library induction
By the end of this session, participants will be familiar
with:
the opening hours of the library
the resources held by the library (books, journals,
statistics etc) and how to locate them (including an
introduction to the NLM classification scheme)
their borrowing rights
the services offered by the library (literature searching
training, inter-library loans, enquiry desk etc)
the contact details of the library (including email
address, telephone number, web address)
What are learning
outcomes?
Learning outcomes (also known as key
learning activities) are…
“What will be learned. What the participants
will be expected to achieve at the end of the
course - knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
Specifically what achieving the course
objectives should have enabled the
participants to learn” (1)
Writing learning outcomes (1)
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Learning outcomes should specify the
minimum acceptable standards for
students to pass the training course (3)
Therefore, it is important that learning
outcomes are expressed in terms of the
essential learning for the information skills
training course (3)
Each information skills training course
should have between four and eight key
learning outcomes (3)
Writing learning outcomes (2)
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Learning outcomes should begin
with the following phrase (or
similar) (3):
On successful completion of this
training course, students will be
able to…
Writing learning outcomes (3)
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Each learning outcome should be preceded
by an action verb so that students are able
to demonstrate that they have learned or
achieved the outcome (3)
Verbs relating to knowledge outcomes such
as- ‘know’, ‘understand’, ‘appreciate’- tend
to be rather vague and focus on the
process that students have gone through
(3)
Instead, where possible, action verbs such
as- ‘solve’, evaluate’, ‘use’, ‘analyse’should be used to indicate how students
can demonstrate their knowledge (3)
Writing learning outcomes (4)
o
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Bloom’s Taxonomy of 1956 is a good aid for
writing learning outcomes (3)
Bloom identified six categories of learning (3):
1. Knowledge 2. Comprehension 3. Application
4. Analysis 5. Synthesis 6. Evaluation
The first two relate to knowledge and
understanding, while the remaining for involve
intellectual skills
It may be tempting to concentrate on the first
two categories for your information skills training
session, but it is important to introduce the
higher level activities where possible
Examples of learning
outcomes: Stage 1…
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For an ‘information skills for medical students’
training course…
Upon successful completion of this training course,
participants will be able to:
Examples of learning
outcomes: Stage 2…
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For an ‘information skills for medical students’
training course…
Upon successful completion of this training course,
participants will be able to:
Understand
Develop
Conduct
Evaluate and select
Use
Use
Use
Understand and evaluate
Examples of learning
outcomes: Stage 3…
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For an ‘information skills for medical students’ training
course [Based on (4)]…
Upon successful completion of this training course,
participants will be able to:
Understand the information seeking process and its role in
research
Develop a search strategy for your research topic(s)
Conduct subject searches and other search tactics
Evaluate and select information
Use traditional library sources
Use on-line databases
Use the WWW for healthcare/medical information
Understand and evaluate the range of primary healthcare
resources available to you
What are the benefits of
learning outcomes?
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Courses which are designed using learning
outcomes are student-centred (2)
Designing courses in this way marks a shift
from the content of a module or course (i.e.
what trainers teach) towards its outcome
(i.e. what the students are able to do upon
successful completion of the course) (2)
What are the benefits of
learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes can…
 Help to guide students in their learning
because they explain what is expected of
them (3).
 Help trainers to focus on what they want
students to achieve as a result of the
training course provide a useful guide to
inform potential students and employers
about the knowledge and understanding
that a graduate of the training course will
possess (3)
What about assessment
criteria?
Now that we know what objectives
and outcomes are, we need an
understanding of assessment
criteria…
Assessment criteria
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“Assessment criteria describe how well a student has to be able to
achieve the learning outcome in order to be awarded a particular
grade” (5).
“Assessment criteria should test, assess or relate to the learning
that is mentioned in the learning outcomes” (6)
Assessment criteria are important because they ensure that
marking is fair and standard as all students work is marked to the
same criteria (5)
For an example of assessment criteria for an information literacy
course, see: http://www.nelh.nhs.uk/folio/infoskills2/criteria.doc
For detailed information about how to create assessment criteria,
see ‘Designing and using assessment criteria’ (Oxford Brookes
University) at:
http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/firstwords/fw24.html
Linking objectives, learning outcomes and
assessment criteria to the evaluation of
learning
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When setting assignments or tests for trainees,
the tasks that you set should have a clear
alignment with the objectives, learning outcomes
and the assessment criteria for the course (3)
This enables you to design appropriate tasks and
to deliver the training course in a way that enables
students to reach the required outcomes (3)
It also enables you to ensure that there is
coherence in your information skills training
session (3)
The alignment between objectives, learning
outcomes, assessment tasks and assessment
criteria should be made transparent to the
students to help them to successfully attain the
required knowledge and skills (3)
References
1.
2.
3.
West Midlands Modular Trainers Course. 2004.
Curriculum.
http://www.trainer.org.uk/members/theory/planning
/curriculum.htm
Alison Hicks. ‘Developing information skills
training for National Health Service personnel:
experiences at the Trent Institute for Health
Services Research’. Program, 1998. Vol 32, No. 2;
pp 123-136
University of Central England in Birmingham.
2004. Guide to learning outcomes.
http://lmu.uce.ac.uk/outcomes/UCE%20Guide%20
to%20Learning%20Outcomes.pdf
References
4.
5.
6.
University of Strathclyde. 2004. GAELS.
http://gaels.lib.strath.ac.uk/info_skills
Oxford Brookes University. 2001. 2.4
Designing and using assessment criteria.
http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/first
words/fw24.html
Jenny Moon. Linking Levels. Learning
Outcomes and Assessment Criteria.
http://www.liv.ac.uk/~cll/files/LinkingLevelspl
usasscrit.doc Exeter University
Further reading
1.
2.
3.
4.
3.
Chris Butcher. 2004. Bloom’s Taxonomy. SDDU
University of Leeds.
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/sddu/online/bloom.htm
E.A. Hesketh. 2004. Aims and objectives. NHS
Education for Scotland.
http://www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/courses/ti/AimsObjectives.p
df
Janet Peters. 2004.Learning outcomes and information
literacy. SCONUL
University of Aberdeen. 1997. Guidance on aims and
objectives for teaching and learning.
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/secretariat/aimsobs.hti
University of Portsmouth. 2004. Aims and objectives
explained: getting the most out of units.
http://www.port.ac.uk/departments/academic/edam/reso
urces/intranet/studyguide/filetodownload,3626,en.pdf
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