Queen's University

Professor emphasizes learning outcomes in teaching

 
2012-04-18
[Richard Ascough]Richard Ascough, an associate professor in the School of Religion, has noticed positive results from clearly articulating learning outcomes and student outputs.

Richard Ascough hopes the model he has adapted for designing courses will improve teaching while satisfying quality assessment processes.

“Gone are the days, for better or worse, of the professor standing in front of the class and lecturing for three hours on whatever he or she feels like. Students and parents expect something different,” says Dr. Ascough, an associate professor in the School of Religion. “Well-defined learning outcomes allow me to be more transparent with my students about the kind of learning that will happen in my courses.”

Dr. Ascough begins designing courses by identifying the learning outcomes — the attitudes and abilities he aims to instill in his students. Then he creates outputs – the work students must complete, helping him assess their progress toward the learning outcomes. Finally, he outlines objectives, telling students how the course will proceed and stating his responsibilities as an instructor.

Dr. Ascough notices positive results from clearly articulating learning outcomes and student outputs. After one of his courses, students gave him perfect scores on course evaluations for excellence of the course, effectiveness of the instructor, and the amount of learning the course facilitated. More importantly, Dr. Ascough notes students demonstrated a higher level of engagement with the material in class and their essays.

Learning outcomes and degree-level expectations—what students should know and be able to do after completing a degree program—are integral parts of the new Queen’s Quality Assurance Processes (QUQAPs).

Dr. Ascough’s research paper Learning (About) Outcomes: How the Focus on Assessment Can Help Overall Course Design was published in the Canadian Journal of Higher Education.
 

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