Outcomes-Based Education

(1 day if stand-alone; 1/2 day if linked with Effective Teaching Workshop)

In traditional education, curricula are defined and evaluated based on the content presented. If a department’s course syllabi list the appropriate topics and the course instructors address those topics, the instructional program is judged successful, regardless of what the students learned. In outcomes-based education (OBE), curricula are defined based on the learning outcomes they address–the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they wish their graduates to have. A program is considered successful only to the extent that the outcomes can be shown by rigorous assessment to have been achieved.

Outcomes-based education is increasingly used in engineering programs throughout the world as the basis for instructional program accreditation and is starting to be used in other disciplines. In the United States (which is subject to the ABET Engineering Criteria) and nations elsewhere in the world that are signatories of the Washington Accord, engineering programs seeking accreditation must equip their graduates with certain attributes including learning outcomes defined by Criterion 3 of the ABET Engineering Criteria. Some of the attributes are straightforward but others lack precise definition, and no clear idea exists of how they should be assessed or what instructors must do to equip students with them.

This workshop prepares STEM department heads, coordinators of multi-department degree programs, and faculty members to formulate learning outcomes, design instruction to address the outcomes, and assess the degree to which the outcomes have been achieved. The ABET Engineering Criteria are used for illustration, but the methods presented can easily be extrapolated to OBE-based evaluation systems in other STEM disciplines.

Topics Addressed

  • What is outcomes-based education? What are learning outcomes, outcome indicators and performance targets, learning objectives, and the rest of the bewildering assortment of terms associated with OBE?
  • What OBE requirements are imposed by the ABET Engineering Criteria? (Workshops given in countries subject to the Washington Accord also discuss the ABET requirements.)
  • How should program outcomes and course goals and learning objectives be formulated to address program goals and accreditation criteria?
  • Which outcomes are and are not addressed by traditional instructional methods? What instructional methods can be used to address the other outcomes?
  • Which outcomes are and are not addressed by traditional assessment methods? What assessment methods can be used to address the other outcomes?

Contact Richard Felder for information about scheduling and fees.