Volume 9 Issue 2 (2020)

(How) Do Students Use Learning Outcomes? Results from a Small-Scale Project

pp. 80-89  |  Published Online: June 2020  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2020.92.1

Andrew G Holmes

Abstract

Pre-specified, prescribed or intended Learning Outcomes have been in use throughout higher education programs for over two decades. There is an assumption amongst quality assurance bodies and university program approval and review processes that students engage with them. Yet, learning outcomes may constrain learning, they may not always be understood by learners and their relevance to learning has been questioned. There is anecdotal evidence from lecturers that some students do not understand them and do not use or refer to them. This paper reports on a small-scale research project investigating how university student’s use prescribed learning outcomes in their everyday learning and when producing assessed work. No clear differences were found between higher and lower achieving students, yet there were differences between first- and third-year students. Surprisingly, some were able to achieve highly without referring to the outcomes against which they were assessed.

Keywords: Learning outcomes, assessment, student achievement, education students, student achievement.

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