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How do learning outcomes and behavioural objectives complement each other?

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Many teachers ask, “What is the difference between learning outcomes and my existing course objectives?” Learning outcomes describe intended skills and abilities that a student should have acquired and/or developed by the end of a course. Objectives, on the other hand, are usually focused more on specific knowledge acquisition or development of discrete skills and so describe the process rather than the intended result.

It is important that teachers understand that learning outcomes do not replace the work they have already completed in writing objectives for their courses. Instead, learning outcomes complement objectives by providing additional detail. When instructors articulate both the learning process (objectives) and the intended result (outcomes), students are provided with complete and transparent expectations. The key for instructors is to ensure that they focus on the learning expected at the end of  their course in addition to the learning process through which they will guide their students. 

Learning outcomes clarify expected student abilities, and in doing so, help articulate objectives, teaching methods, learning activities, and assessment strategies and tools.

Learning outcomes describe the final destination... objectives provide the stepping stones to reach the destination!


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