Our first ‘Learning Outcomes Project’ paper has just been published in Teaching in Higher Education. It’s called ‘Learning about learning outcomes: the student perspective’, and is based on research we conducted with students at the University of Leicester concerning their perceptions about, and uses of, learning outcomes.
We are particularly pleased with this publication as it is one of relatively few papers reporting on research conducted that actually explores student use of, and engagement with, learning outcomes.
Some snippets from the paper to whet your appetite:
To date, there has been much speculation about the benefits and the drawbacks of learning outcomes for students, but, significantly, little attention has been given to researching and documenting how students are actually viewing and using them. Therefore, the impact of learning outcomes on students’ learning is still relatively unknown (p3/4).
The issue of whether students are able to understand learning outcomes at the outset of an element of teaching or require exposure to the content to fully understand the learning outcome was explored. Almost half the participants (49%) agreed that learning outcomes can only be fully understood at the end of a module when the total course or module content is known (p5).
18% of respondents reported that learning outcomes can restrict the breadth of their learning…Over a quarter of the sample (27%) felt learning outcomes can overfragment their knowledge, making it difficult for them to appreciate the overview of their subject (p5).
…whilst some students spoke of effective learning outcomes being more specific rather than vague, others were also keen to stress that they should retain a balance of helping to guide students in their learning but not to restrict it (p9).
…the questionnaire revealed that many students struggle to understand from their learning outcomes the depth of learning required. Particularly surprising was the large proportion of respondents that reported that they had found it possible to underestimate the level of learning required to pass an assessment from published learning outcomes. What may be clear and objective to tutors, due to their prior knowledge and experience, may be deceptive to students, particularly at the beginning of a new learning activity or module (p10/11).
(Sara Brooks, Kerry Dobbins, Jon J.A. Scott, Mark Rawlinson, Robert I. Norman (2014) Learning about learning outcomes: the student perspective. Teaching in Higher Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2014.901964)
Be sure to access the full paper to put these findings and conclusions into the wider context of the study.
As always, we would be very pleased to hear any thoughts or comments you may have based on the research presented and/or conclusions drawn in the paper.