The two terms, Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes are often conflated and lead to confusion.
Learning Objectives typically refer to activities or steps for achieving course goals as stated by the instructor. They are therefore “teacher-centric”. In addition, well written learning objectives are measurable.
Learning Outcomes on the other hand, are written from the learner’s perspective. They are written in measurable terms and make instructor-stated learning objectives meaningful to the student. Learning outcomes describe what a student will be able to do, the conditions under which these activities will take place, and the accepted performance level. In other words, learning outcomes include a context of use that makes what students learn more relevant to them.
For example, in a Psychology course on mental illness, one of the learning objectives could be written as follows:
- Students will be able to define schizophrenia and describe with examples, the different types of schizophrenia.
The Learning Outcome for the above learning objective can be contextualized and written thus:
- When given a case study, students will be able to identify whether it describes a case of schizophrenia, and if it does, which of the following schizophrenic reactions are involved: hybephrenic, catatonic, or paranoid.
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