Outcomes-based education is learner-centred. Curriculum design based on outcomes allows instructors to measure what students are able to do at the end of the course. The three main concerns of outcomes-based education are alignment, threading, and laddering of the curriculum elements (outcomes, assessment, skills, concepts/issues, learning activities).
- Alignment refers to the process of ensuring that each element of your curriculum fits together
- (e.g. a course outcome states that a student will be able to critically assess the composition of a song, and the assessment is an oral presentation to the class on the lyrical structure).
- Misalignment occurs when curriculum elements do not match
- (e.g. a course outcome states that a student will be able to critically assess the composition of a song but the assessment is a fill-in-the blank test).
- Laddering, also called leveling, refers to the progressive complexity of the curriculum elements as students move through the program
- (e.g. a 4th year course will have a higher degree of complexity than a 1st year course, and the curriculum elements should step-up each year).
- Threading refers to core curriculum elements being woven throughout several courses
- (e.g. information fluency might be threaded through all 1st year courses in a program; it would then be laddered up for 2nd year and threaded through 2nd year courses as well).
Outcomes-Based Curriculum Design
The outcomes-based design process begins at the end with the intended outcomes and works backwards towards the learning activities. This process is also called Backwards Design.
Steihl, R. & Lewchuck, L. (2008). The Outcomes Primer: reconstructing the college curriculum. Corvallis, Oregon: The Learning Organization.
Updated August 21, 2018
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