November 27, 1998

Michael Bulley responds to Phil Race's article on learning outcomes (Letters, November 20) by criticising the use of jargon and saying he has no idea of what the learning outcome of his teaching is or should be and that it is in any case not measurable.

"Measure" has the mathematical sense of "to ascertain size or quantity" and the more general meaning, "to appraise by a certain standard or rule, or by comparison with something else" (Shorter OED).

How does Mr Bulley decide whether his students have succeeeded or failed other than by identifying certain things as evidence that they have achieved certain other things?

What troubled me about Mr Race's article was its prescriptiveness. It would be much better if government said where it wanted improvements and invited universities to develop their own solutions.

The government will only do this if it trusts universities. Spitting tacks at every mention of showing what one does is worth doing and is done well is not the way to win that trust.

Penny Tucker Hartley Wintney Hants

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