Intended Learning Outcomes

As part of my CPD, I started Module A of the Pg Cert HE course in January, with a view to becoming a Fellow of the HEA.  On Monday afternoon, I was in a classroom learning about intended learning outcomes (ILOs) and constructive alignment.  By Wednesday morning, I was in a college academic committee meeting, considering a bundle of module specification forms.  I didn’t expect to be putting theory into practice quite so soon!

It was interesting to see a variety of module specification forms, their associated intended learning outcomes, and teaching, learning and assessment methods, both within and across departments. There were some excellent examples of intended learning outcomes and constructive alignment; but equally some with few or poor intended learning outcomes, which focused on student acquisition of ‘awareness and understanding’.  One department offered modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and it was interesting to see how they were differentiated in the use of higher level taxonomy in the intended learning outcomes, advanced seminars in the teaching and learning methods, and extended coursework in assessment. 

There appears to be a trend for assessment methods to be moving away from exams towards essays and project work.  Academics felt this gave students a greater opportunity to shine; but they were encouraged to consider the impact of increased coursework on the student experience.  There was also inconsistency across the departments in the amount of contact time (lectures, seminars and independent study), and the volume of assessed coursework (word counts), for modules of equal level and credit weighting.  

The forms were criticised for not providing space for a module summary, and from my perspective, learning resources.  I am now expecting a number of new reading lists for new (history) modules.  Finally, far too many forms contained errors and omissions – typographic errors in particular.  There is certainly a need for departments to quality check their documentation.

Today, with the help of a little pedagogy, I have seen the work of the college academic committee in a new light …

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