Objectives, Outcomes and Learning Statements: The Debate

How to use them….. I think!

I often have discussions with people about objectives, outcomes and learning statement but everyone has their own opinion on what is best.  For trainee teachers this is typically one of the hardest concepts to get right because of this wide range of opinions about ‘what is right and what is wrong.’  The Assessment & Learning Pocketbook (Ian Smith (2007)) does a very nice job in outlining how to go about creating learning intentions and success criteria.  Please note I will not be discussing modeling, process, product, syntax or lexical usage to make it easier to understand the principles.

The Objective, Outcome and Learning Statement

The outcomes are used to tell the learner what they will produced (we are going to make an outstanding poster about volcanos) whereas the objectives is why the learner is creating the poster (you will be able to state different features of a volcano).  Outcomes are typically a medium which is used to practice or introduce knowledge, skills or develop understanding. The objective is linked to the curriculum requirements (National Curriculum or GCSE Specification) and by the end of the course, unit or module the learner will have learnt all the requirements of the curriculum.

The statement below is a fusion of the lesson outcome and objective, creating the overall learning intention (sometimes call learning statement) for the lesson.

This lesson, we are going to produce an outstanding poster to help us learn about the different features of a volcano.

Debate: State Just The Outcome

If we present just the outcome (we are going to make an outstanding poster about volcanos) it does not tell the student what they are learning.  It assumes that the students will implicitly know or that you (the teacher) will tell them. This means that you will have to show the objective alongside the outcome.

Debate: State Just The Objective

If we present just the objective (you will be able to state different features of a volcano) it does not tell the student how they will learner the different features of the volcano.  It assumes that the learner will implicitly know or that you (the teacher) will tell them. This means that you will have to show the outcome alongside the objective.

Debate: Both The Outcome and Outcome

If we present both the objective and outcome to the learner (see below) we are presenting two discrete pieces of information (or statements) and the learners treat it as such. However, people remember what they find interesting (like) about the statement (poster, volcano) and forget what they are not interested in (state, features)

Todays Lesson:

Objective) You will be able to state different features of a volcano

Outcome) We are going to make an outstanding poster about volcanos

Debate: State Just The Learning Statement

By using the learning statement (see below) the learner is being informed about the lesson outcome and objective in one piece of information or statement reducing the cognitive load.  This approach makes the objective and outcome interlinked (cannot have one without the other) promoting the importance of both the product and the learning.

Todays Lesson:

We are going to produce an outstanding poster to help us learn about the different features of a volcano.

 

Questioning Learners About The Lesson Requirements

Regardless of the method you use, you will need to question the learners about what they will be learning. We do this to make sure that the learner has a clear understanding of their future learning.  It is also an excellent way of producing a success criteria with the students.

  • Know what they need to produce by the end of the lesson
    • Tell me what you will have created by the end of the lesson?
    • Are there different types of posters?
    • State some feature which posters have?
    • Describe to me what a volcano poster might look like?
  • Know how they will produce it and what skills they are likely to use
    • Paper or computer?
    • What software will you use?
    • What software skills will you use?
    • Where will you find help if needed (three before me)?
    • Where will you save the poster and what will you name it?
  • Know why they are producing the product
    • State why we are making the poster?
    • What type of facts might we discover?
    • What keywords might we use?
    • What colours do we associate with volcanos?

Where Next

Success Criteria, Why Do I Always Get It Wrong

Objectives, Outcomes and Learning Statements: The Debate
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