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Outline Educational Opportunities

What, specifically, will students know or be able to do? What experiences does your program provide in order to give students the opportunity to achieve the goals that have been set for them? In part, these experiences are a program’s required courses that are designed to meet certain course objectives. These course objectives are aligned with program goals but are more specific and concrete (i.e., defined in a way that makes them measurable). Course objectives are also sometimes called outcomes, competencies, aims, learning objectives or performance objectives.

Educational opportunities also encompass the specific elements of course work, such as methods of instruction, assignments, academic supports, etc. A few examples of elements that can support and enhance student learning are presented below. Additional guidance and information are provided in the Assessment Resources section of this website.

  • Syllabi that include explicitly stated course objectives [Syllabus Template and Sample Syllabus in resources section]
  • Written, detailed guidelines for assignments (including purpose, audience, format, citation style, resources to be used, assessment criteria, etc.) [Assignment Template and Sample Sequenced Assignment in resources section]
  • Explicit criteria (rubrics or other means of description), shared with students, that define successful performance on assignments [Rubric Basics in resources section]
  • Class discussion of examples that illustrate poor, proficient, and superior performance on assignments (i.e., use of “sample” or “model” papers which can be annotated during class discussion)
  • Sequencing assignments (e.g., mini-assignments that build to a larger assignment, such as a final paper) [Assignment Template and Sample Sequenced Assignment in resources section]
  • Students’ submission and revision of multiple drafts of papers
  • Conferences with students to discuss their papers
  • Informal in-class writing (e.g., one-minute papers, learning logs, triple-entry journals, etc.)
  • Use of an editing checklist for students to review their work (self-editing and/or peer review (see Appendix K for sample peer review guiding questions)
  • In-class peer tutoring

In addition to the course-related “best practices” stated above, additional educational opportunities can be implemented to support student achievement of learning objectives and mastery of departmental goals, including the following:

  • Sequencing courses so that skills are introduced from basic to intermediate to advanced
  • Reinforcement of skills and knowledge across courses (not “once and done”)
  • Tutoring/learning center
  • Advising
  • Availability of faculty after class and during office hours
  • Guest speakers
  • Student/professional clubs
  • Study abroad 

Examples of broad versus specific wordings for course objectives

Fine Arts

  • Broad:  Students will demonstrate knowledge of the history, literature and function of the theater, including works from various periods and cultures.
  • More specific:  Students will be able to explain the theoretical bases of various dramatic genres and illustrate them with examples from plays of different eras.
  • Even more specific, specifying the conditions:  During the senior dramatic literature course, the students will be able to explain the theoretical bases of various dramatic genres and illustrate them with examples from plays of different eras.

Philosophy

  • Broad:  The student will be able to discuss philosophical questions.
  • More specific:  The student is able to develop relevant examples and to express the significance of philosophical questions using appropriate analytical frameworks.

General Education

  •  Broad:  Students will be able to think in an interdisciplinary manner.
  • More specific:  Asked to solve a problem in the student’s field, the student will be able to draw from theories, principles, and/or knowledge from other disciplines to help solve the problem.

Business

  • Broad:  Students will understand how to use technology effectively.
  • More specific:  Each student will be able to use word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations graphics in preparing their final research project and report.

Psychology

  • Broad:  Students will understand the historically important systems of psychology.
  • More specific:  Students will understand the psychoanalytic, Gestalt, behaviorist, humanistic, and cognitive approaches to psychology.
  • Even more specific:  Students will be able to recognize and articulate the foundational assumptions, central ideas, and dominant criticisms of the psychoanalytic, Gestalt, behaviorist, humanistic, and cognitive approaches to psychology.

(How to Write Objectives and Outcomes, University of Connecticut Assessment)

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