Expectations, Course Goals and Learning Outcomes

GuidelineClearly articulate expectations, course goals, and intended learning outcomes to support student learning.

Well-expressed statements of intended learning outcomes help students to identify their own targets, and work systematically towards demonstrating their achievement of these targets.

Race, P., The Lecturer’s Toolkit:  A Practical Guide to Learning, Teaching and Assessment, Kogan Page, London, p. 21 (2001).

It is indisputable that, from the students’ perspective, clear standards and goals are a vitally important element of an effective educational experience.  Lack of clarity on these points is almost always associated with negative evaluations, learning difficulties, and poor performance.

Ramsden, P., Learning to Teach in Higher Education, Routledge, London, p. 127 (1992).

Students need to be on the inside of the logic of the course, believing in its rationale, not tagging along, feeling bewildered and jumping through hoops.

Gibbs, G., Assessing Student Centred Courses, The Oxford Centre for Staff Development, Oxford, p. 8 (1995).


Additional references

Allan, J., “Learning outcomes in higher education”, Studies in Higher Education, vol. 21, no. 1. pp. 93-108 (1996).

Barr, R.B. & Tagg, J., “From teaching to learning-a new paradigm for undergraduate education”, Change, vol. 27, issue 6, pp. 12-25 (1995).

Biggs, J and Tang C. (2011): Teaching for Quality Learning at University, (McGraw-Hill and Open University Press, Maidenhead)

Biggs, J., “Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment”, Studies in Higher Education, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 347-64 (1996).

Foster, G., Design of University Courses and Subjects:  A Strategic Approach, HERDSA, ACT (1993).

Safoutin, M.J., Atman, C.J., Adams, R., Rutar, T., Kramlich, J.C. & Fridley, J.L., “A Design Attribute Framework for Course Planning and Learning Assessment”, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 43, no. 2, p. 188-199 (2000).

Toohey, S, Designing Courses for Higher Education, SRHE & Open University Press, Buckingham (1999).

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, Understanding by Design, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curricular Development, Alexandria, VA (2005).


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