The ABCs of Learning Outcomes

Yesterday, the Student Affairs Collaborative Blog posted a bit about Student Learning Outcome basics. The writers suggested you remember your ABCs: A-“Audience” B-“Behavior” C-“Condition” and sometimes D-“Degree. Screening “Snow White” is used as an example to illustrate these four points: “After seeing the film ‘Snow White’ (the condition), the students (audience) will be able to name (behavior) five of the seven dwarfs (degree).”

They went on to list additional 5 points you should keep in mind when developing your learning outcomes:

  1. Start small.
  2. Make a list of what students should know or be able to do or demonstrate after a specific program. Turn that list into learning outcomes.
  3. Don’t over think. Learning outcomes can be basic, like the “Snow White” example.
  4. Keep them assessable. Don’t use behaviors like “will understand” or “will appreciate” because they are too difficult to assess. Use behaviors like “will identify” or “can list” because that is a behavior you can assess.
  5. Finally, relate your learning outcomes to the larger objectives and outcomes you are seeking.

This reminded me very much of the process we go through when we submit poster, paper, or panel proposals for our conferences. The submission guidelines always ask for learning outcomes and I’ve always been a little lost when it comes to listing those.

These tips helped me get a better handle on what I think is being sought. Just replace “students” with “participants”, keep it simple, list what the participants can do at the conclusion of the program (making outcomes assessable), and tie the outcomes to a larger objective (like the conference theme).

Sounds good to me. Hope it helps.

-Megan P.

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