What is Learning Outcomes?

Do you know if your students really have the necessary skills to be successful in the workplace? John Picone discusses what is learning outcomes and how you can be confident your students are achieving what they should be. 

Hi there. John Picone here. Today I am going to talk to you about learning outcomes and why knowing if your students are obtaining the optimal skills is so important for the student, your school and ultimately the employer. Whether due to increased federal and state regulatory pressure, an increased tendency towards programmatic accreditation, or just the increased accountability on schools for retention and job placement, measuring learning outcomes is vital to the success of the student, your school and ultimately the employer.

In its simplest form, Learning Outcomes can be defined as the specific knowledge, skills and abilities that students are expected to have attained as a result of their educational training. And with the ever growing number of options for content, technology and education providers, there is also the potential for a growing disconnect between what instructors are teaching, what students are learning, and the skills required by employers.

It is important to consider that there are a number of factors that can influence whether or not a student is TRULY learning the skills they need to be successful on the job. Instructors have different teaching styles. Students have different ways of learning.

Some questions you might consider when evaluating Learning Outcomes are:

  • Am I able to validate the quality of instruction and effectiveness in terms of students’ and instructors’ performance and job readiness?
  • Can I validate that the curriculum being taught is based on the employer’s needs for competencies and skills?
  • Are you able to ensure that programs and learning outcomes are demonstrated and are meeting your school’s mission?

On the job is too late to find out if a graduate has the skills or vital knowledge that is necessary for the job. Knowing with certainty that your students are learning what they need to know – and your teachers are teaching effectively – is fundamental to your success. Instituting an unbiased assurance mechanism to monitor and improve curriculum and instruction, based on employer needs, will give you and your students the confidence of knowing that your students are prepared for success.

That assurance mechanism is available today. My recommendation is to measure your student’s learning outcomes with a tool like the Wonderlic Learning Outcomes Assessments, which are a series of interactive, online exams that test your students’ knowledge and competencies. Developed with the aid and collaboration of employers, educators, accrediting bodies, and programmatic boards, our Learning Outcomes Assessments give you the opportunity to pinpoint gaps and identify issues quickly, before it’s too late. Each question is weighted based on feedback from employers in the relevant industry. Weighting can be customized if you find employers in your area value skills and competencies differently than the national averages.

By measuring learning outcomes, you can:

  • Advance the quality of instruction.
  • Improve student performance.
  • Increase teacher effectiveness.
  • Align curricula to employer needs.

Producing quality graduates not only secures the future of your program, it provides a better future for your students and the employers that count on you to deliver top, high quality employees.

Comments

We often hear talk about learning outcomes, but simply having assessments for the sake of assessing or grading is not always enough. I completely agree with the statement that "on the job is too late", and in an increasingly competitive employment market waiting to be on the job to find out if an individual has the necessary knowledge and skills may be a risk for both the individual and the employer.

Students, particularly adult learners, need to know how the skills they are acquiring are preparing them for the jobs they will be performing. Adequate assessment of learning outcomes during the educational process should provide both formative and summative feedback for students and instructors. Getting local businesses and organizations to collaborate with educational programs can have additional benefits.

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