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Indiana University Bloomington

Instructional Consulting

Learning Outcomes in Your Syllabus

Instructional Support and Assessment Specialist

Linking Learning Outcomes to Program Goals in Your Syllabus

Introduction

Learning outcomes that are clearly stated in the learner's terms should be included in every syllabus for every course taught at the Kelley School of Business. This practice helps students get a clear picture of what is expected of them in the course, keep on track with their learning, and at the end of the course, evaluate the sufficiency and quality of instruction aimed toward those outcomes. At the same time, well articulated learning outcomes can help faculty frame the work they do as teachers around student learning rather than coverage.

With respect to assessment, the inclusion of learning outcomes in course syllabi is one way to help both students and faculty see the coherence of a program's curriculum. That is, when syllabi draw explicit connections between course learning outcomes and program learning goals (PULs and PBLs for the Indianapolis undergraduate experience), both students and faculty are able to see how the learning in that particular course relates to the overall learning for a given degree. Unfortunately, this latter relationship has often been missing in students' experience at university: all too often, students see their various courses as discrete entities with little or no relationship to each other or to a coherent set of learning goals. The inclusion of learning outcomes for the course, program learning goals (PULs and PBLs for the Indianapolis undergraduate experience) for the degree, and a statement relating the two can do much to help students see this important relationship.

Procedure

Step 1: Articulate learning outcomes for your course.

Learning outcomes should be articulated in terms of what students should be able to do by the end of your course. For support and suggestions about articulating learning outcomes, refer to the link to the left navigation bar, Articulating clear learning outcomes.

Here is an example of a statement of learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, students should be able to develop an Excel spreadsheet to analyze a data set related to a business problem. Based on their analysis, they should be able to recommend a sound solution to the problem in clear, concise writing.

Once articulated, include these learning outcomes directly in the body of your syllabus, preferably early in the document to highlight their importance.

Step 2: Identify which program goals are addressed by which course learning outcomes

Refer to the link to the left bar program learning goals and click on the program in which your course is taught. This document will become an appendix to which you will refer as you relate your learning outcomes to the program's learning goals.

Now, have another look at your learning outcomes and determine which of the program's learning goals are addressed by selected learning outcomes. Bear in mind, some of your learning outcomes may not link to any of the program's learning goals.

Step 3: Append your learning outcomes with a parenthetical reference to a corresponding program learning goal. It is not necessary or expected that every learning outcome link to a program-wide learning goal.

Be sure to explain to students what the parenthetical reference is and where they can reference the program learning goals, i.e., in the appendix.

Here's what the above example might look like:

By the end of this course, students should be able to develop an Excel spreadsheet to analyze a data set related to a business problem. Based on their analysis, they should be able to recommend a sound solution to the problem in clear, concise writing. (This learning outcome supports learning goals 1 and 3 of the Undergraduate Program. A complete listing of learning goals for the Undergraduate Program may be found in the Appendix to this syllabus).

Important last note

Just as it is not expected or necessary that each learning outcome map to a program learning goal, it is not expected or even recommended that all program learning goals be addressed by a course's learning outcomes. Typically, one or two learning goals at the most will be supported by the course's learning outcomes.