Not all outcomes are desirable ones (4 of 4)

December 6, 2012

Frank Furedi's characterisation of the woeful limitations of the mechanical and formulaic method of assessing learning outcomes accords well with my own considerable experience as a university lecturer (1975-2011).

The fact that statements of learning outcomes are usually prefaced with the injunction that at the end of the course students will achieve this or that end blithely ignores the fact that learning is a product of interaction between two parties: students and lecturers. Rigid prediction of these outcomes via only one of the parties makes little sense. The depth of understanding gained is likely to vary greatly from student to student. It follows that this should be acknowledged by expressing learning outcomes as possibilities rather than as a fixed set of predetermined achievements.

Issuing a blank sheet of A4 at the end of a course and asking students to write a paragraph on what they consider they have learned is likely to invite more thoughtful assessment than typical feedback questionnaires do.

Michael Somerton, Hull

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