which are unlikely to change unless specifically addressed by instructional strategies. Persistent preconceptions often limit student’s conceptual understanding and ability to apply new knowledge appropriately to new contexts.

In the pages below an expanded summary of Baumstark’s presentation, the learning outcomes proposed by workshop participants, as well as additional ideas and cautions put forward by participants during plenary discussions, are detailed.


When a conscientious college instructor designs a course for undergraduates, the usual questions are: “What topics do I need to cover for these particular students? What are the prerequisites for the course, and do they serve as prerequisites for other courses? What textbook or materials should I use? Should the course include a lab experience? If so, to what extent is it possible to correlate the material covered in the lecture with that in the lab?”

Rarely, however, is much thought given to answering two other crucial questions: “What, explicitly, do I want the students to know and be able to do at the end of the course?” and “How will I assess whether they have achieved those learning outcomes?” Yet answers to the latter questions are critical in determining what is taught and how it is taught (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998; Huba and Freed, 2000; NRC, 2001). This is not a new or radical view. In a now classical text on instructional methods, Tyler (1949) describes the logic of starting with learning outcomes: “Educational objectives become the criteria by which materials are selected, content is outlined, instructional procedures are developed, and texts and examinations are prepared…[the objectives] indicate the kinds of changes in the student to be brought about so that instructional activities can be planned and developed in a way likely to attain these objectives” (pp. 1, 45).

The Process of Developing Learning Outcomes

Barbara Baumstark, Georgia State University (GSU)

What then are the processes by which a college instructor develops a series of learning outcomes for a course? In her workshop presentation Wandering Through the World of Standards, Baumstark described her experiences with Quality in Undergraduate Education (QUE) (http://www.pewundergradforum.org/project9.html).

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