We have all heard of terms like course objectives, goals, and outcomes in association with syllabi, course planning, and accreditation. In recent years, the great "eye of Gondor" (think Tolkien) has come to rest on learning outcomes.
If we google the term, 5.6 million sites magically assemble. So do hundreds of viewpoints and definitions.
So, let's explore a bit.
"Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. Outcomes are usually expressed as knowledge, skills, or attitudes." Source
1. There are learning outcomes that are very general, like those from Kansas State University which lists five goal areas (Knowledge, Critical Thinking, Communication, Diversity, and Academic and Professional Integrity) at the institutional level. For each, there are learning outcomes. Read this one:
"Students will demonstrate the ability to access and interpret information, respond and adapt to changing situations, make complex decisions, solve problems, and evaluate actions."
Can you tell to which goal area this belongs? Check your guess
2. The Association of American Colleges and Universities commissioned a Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) campaign to investigate 21st century skills and solidify general outcomes and ways to assess them.
LEAP was organized around Essential Learning Outcomes, which were developed with input from hundreds of colleges and universitites.
The LEAP web site offers information about High Impact Educational Practices and Authentic Assessments.