Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

 Writing Module Learning Outcomes

Advantages of a Learning Outcomes Approach

The chief advantage of learning outcomes is the clarity and precision they can bring to learning from the perspectives of the learner, teacher and employer.” Kennedy, Hyland and Ryan (2006)

A learning outcomes approach to teaching and learning has received strong support at an international level. Jenkins and Unwin (2001) list the following advantages of learning outcomes:

  • Help teachers to tell students more precisely what is expected of them.
  • Help students to learn more effectively: students know where they stand and the curriculum is made more open to them.
  • Help teachers to design their materials more effectively by acting as a template for them.
  • Make it clear what students can hope to gain from following a particular course or lecture.
  • Help teachers select the appropriate teaching strategy matched to the intended learning outcome, e.g. lecture, seminar, group work, tutorial, discussion, peer group presentation or laboratory class.
  • Help teachers to tell their colleagues more precisely what a particular activity is designed to achieve.
  • Assist in setting examinations based on the materials delivered.
  • Ensure that appropriate teaching and assessment strategies are employed.

It is important to note that while there are clearly significant advantages to the learning outcomes approach, reservations have been expressed from philosophical/conceptual and practical/technical perspectives about the dangers of a narrow interpretation and application of this approach to education (Adam, 2004). However as Kennedy, Hyland and Ryan (2006) point out "this need not be the case if learning outcomes are written with a focus on higher-order thinking and application of skills".