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. Covallis, Oregon: The Learning Organization.

Curriculum Elements Sheet

A Curriculum Elements Sheet (CE Sheet) is used to plan the curriculum for courses and programs at Red Deer College. For a blank version of this document, on the RDC Forms webpage, search for “Curriculum Elements and Outcomes.”

ctl@rdc.ab.ca | 403.356.4989 | Teaching Common – 913C | Find us on theLoop | Find us on Twitter and Facebook @ctlrdc
Updated January 4, 2021

Print This Page Print This Page