Outcomes-Based Teaching & Learning

Outcome-based teaching and learning (OBTL) is an approach to curriculum design that encourages us to explicitly map out what our students should know and be able to do at the end of a course or program of study, how they will demonstrate that knowledge and those skills, and which teaching and learning activities will best support them to achieve those goals.

Identifying intended learning outcomes first simplifies program and course design and ensures instructional strategies stay focused on what the learners need to know and be able to do at the end of the learning experience.

Benefits of the OBTL Approach

Benefits for students
Explicit, measurable learning outcomes . . .

  • make expectations of learning clear and transparent to students
  • offer a direction and focus for studying
  • help students understand the purpose of assignments and assessments
  • allow students more autonomy and control over their learning
  • encourage self-regulated learning
  • improve learning and increase learner motivation
  • help students recognize and articulate their skills and competencies for employment

Benefit for instructors
Explicit, measurable learning outcomes . . .

  • provide clear, specific aims for a particular course or program
  • help instructors develop assignments and assessments
  • simplify the development of marking criteria and/or rubrics
  • help instructors select or develop course materials, instructional strategies and tools
  • ensure consistency of learning among section offerings of a particular course; i.e. all sections have the same learning outcomes, but each instructor chooses the most appropriate instructional strategies for his or her specific group of learners)
  • enable instructors to continuously assess and enhance student learning
  • improve alignment and scaffolding of courses within a particular program
  • facilitate articulation agreements between institutions

TCDC Resources

This overview of outcomes-based teaching and learning illustrates how this approach differs from content-based planning and how to align outcomes, assessments and teaching and learning activities.

This page offers answers to commonly asked questions about using an outcomes-based approach to curriculum design. Here is a downloadable PDF of the same questions and answers.

Other Resources

The College Educator Development Program (CEDP), a collaborative initiative of 6 Ontario colleges, has created a number of interactive educational modules for faculty. The Outcomes-based Education module offers an overview of OBE, including how to write effective learning outcomes and align outcomes and assessment. Copy and paste the URL in your browser if the direct link does not work: https://www.softchalkcloud.com/lesson/serve/GfacAMp6soEgVr/html