Should I share my learning outcomes with my students?


Extract from Issue#10 of Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

All issues of Teaching Tuesdays can be accessed through the folder at this link.

Should I share my learning outcomes with my students?

By Dr Sara M. Fulmer
and“Why Are We Doing This?” Establishing Relevance to Enhance Student LearningBy Jeff Fox


In her blog post, Sara Fulmer responds to the question: “Is there any evidence to support sharing written learning outcomes prior to teaching a topic?” Jeff Fox responds to the question: “Why are we doing this?” The combination of these two short articles provides the background to today’s main list of tips.

QUOTE: … When students understand clearly the value, purpose, and procedures for (subject) activities and the logic by which teachers arrived at their design, they are more likely to see the value of what they are being asked to learn and consequently will participate more fully in the (subject).

Strategies for establishing relevance and sharing learning outcomes

  • Discuss the learning outcomes in the first lesson/module of a subject.
  • Regularly share and discuss the learning outcomes of the subject.
  • Ensure that students understand the learning outcomes. Ask questions like:
  1. Using your own words, what does this outcome mean?
  2. How will I know if I’ve achieved this outcome?
  3. Why do you think it’s important that we learn this?
  4. How does this learning outcome relate to something we’ve already learned?
  • State the intended learning outcomes at the start of each lesson/module. Learning outcomes can be presented through a variety of media – on a slide, posted on the whiteboard for the duration of the lesson, on handouts, in the Subject Outline, in the introduction to a learning module.
  • Orient students at the beginning of each class period by discussing the “What, Why, and How” of that day.
  1. What? What are we doing in class today? What questions will we try to answer? What concepts will we address? What questions will we answer? What activities will we do?
  2. Why? Why are we studying this? How are today’s content and activities tied to the subject learning outcomes? What should I know or be able to do after today’s class? How can the information and skills be used in everyday life?
  3. How? How are we going to address the content? Will we use lectures? Activities? Discussions? How will different learning styles be accommodated?
  • Clearly tie the learning outcomes to the learning activities and assessment tasks.
  • Introduce learning outcomes during pre-assessment by asking students to rate their confidence and current knowledge or skill related to the learning outcome.
  • Check for the achievement of learning outcomes. At the end of the topic or module, ask students to write the answer to the question: “What do you think you were supposed to learn from this topic/module?”

I recommend that you read these two short articles for yourself to access other advice, graphics, checklists and references supplied by these two authors. Dr Fulmer’s blog post is 1,030 words, plus references. Jeff Fox’s article is a 605-word excerpt from a Teaching Professor article.

Other content includes

What are learning outcomes? This includes a useful checklist for determining the effectiveness of your learning outcomes and provides useful links to writing learning outcomes.

Why share learning outcomes?

How to share learning outcomes with students. This includes a sample chart for assessing student perceptions of learning outcomes.

Another recent article from Faculty Focus by Magna Pubs:

Learning Objectives: Where We Start and Where We End

By Maryellen Weimer, PhD