Outcome-based approach is consistent with quality teaching

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am


It is a shame that professors Andrew Goatly and Ersu Ding did not find out more about what an outcome-based curriculum actually is prior to writing their article ('Real education is about much more than just student grades', September 15).

An outcome-based approach to student learning is much more likely to produce graduates who have experienced enhanced learning environments that promote deep (versus surface) learning; ironically, this is the type of graduate that your correspondents also seem to be striving for.

Implementation of this approach requires the faculty to consider learning outcomes (what students need to do), learning activities (what types of activities students need to engage in to help them learn) and assessment (how you will know that they have learned).

All stated learning outcomes must be assessed and a defined standard met for students to graduate.

However, there are many forms of assessment, including assessment of service learning that can certainly be part of an outcome-based curriculum.

In addition, unexpected outcomes are always part of learning and the outcome-based approach does not negate or discourage these.

A critical factor is that there must be alignment between the assessment and the learning outcome.

The statement made in the article by the professors - that 'outcome-based assessment causes problems for teachers who try to educate for life in society rather than train for immediate assessment' - demonstrates their misunderstanding of the approach.

In contrast, teachers using the outcome-based approach are much more likely to create assessment 'for' learning as well as assessment 'of' learning.

I applaud the University Grants Committee for promoting the outcome-based approach. This approach is consistent with a global interest in educational reform for quality teaching and learning.

Diane Salter, associate professor, academic staff development programme lead, Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, University of Hong Kong