Teaching, Assessment and Learning Outcomes (LOs): Put these in the right order!

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What do I think education should look like at Birmingham in 2026? I would be very happy if the words in the title were rearranged into the order:

1) Learning outcomes
2) Assessments
3) Teaching.

I would be even happier if we had a situation where the students define their own learning outcomes. After their degree what do they want to know and what do they want to be able to do? The interesting issue is to ask them how they think they should best be able to demonstrate that they have achieved their learning outcomes. In other words they define their own assessments. So what about the teaching? Once we know the LOs and the Assessments we (led by our students) can facilitate the learning that links the two components, in other words, teach.

What will happen in this brave new world of 2026? I don’t think the LOs would be radically different from what we currently have. The assessments would most likely to be more inclusive and authentic (and not involve writing interminable essays under controlled conditions) which would impact on both retention and employability. The teaching would be a lot more interesting and diverse for both staff and students, So, what’s not to like about giving students control over their own curriculum?

4 thoughts on “Teaching, Assessment and Learning Outcomes (LOs): Put these in the right order!”

  1. I think there needs to be an element of being thrown into the deep end. 2026 will likely confront young graduates with problems we can’t foresee at present. Therefore, graduates need to have confidence in their problem solving strategies. To develop robust problem solving strategies they need to grapple with problems where a solution is not obvious. They need to take risks. They must be allowed to learn from mistakes and failure, and experience them as a temporary setback, not as a final verdict of their ability. Confidence comes from competence, which develops through practice and the experience of having conquered the hard stuff. As academics we need to think carefully about what problems we give students to solve, how we mentor them while they grapple with the problem, and how we lead them to reflect on the progress they have made.

    1. I would also say:

      1. Learning outcomes
      2. Assessments
      3. Teaching.

      I remember reading David Price’s ‘Open-The Learning Revolution’ a couple of years ago. He predicts that freelancing will make up 50% of all jobs by 2020, creating a high-skilled-low-income future. Although I’m not sure of this, I see the change happening in my own life: friends once in the professions now moving to self-employment (by choice or redundancy).

      Students need to take control of their learning, in order to take control of their futures and not be fearful of change: becoming agile and adaptive as well developing other enterprising capabilities as described by Klaus. I would argue that we need to be creating conditions for developing these skills, attributes and behaviours now, through the subject matter for students to practice.

      Just like 2016, organisations, communities and businesses will depend on fresh ideas and innovation. In response, greater collaborations will be formed (international – local). Therefore by 2026, our course content and learning outcomes may be created by students or co-created with students and wider stakeholders to ensure that the authentic experiential learning experiences are highly topical and impactful, relating to bigger external strategies. This will require a flexible curriculum to enable time to think, test and do.

      By 2026, learning outcomes will no longer be task orientated. Similar to now, they will include character/personal development and competency. I also think the outcomes will go further to include the exchanging of value from collaborations (civic dimension).

      From the learning outcomes, assessment processes will be potentially co-constructed. Students may choose their own assessment or negotiate with the academic/educator, learning to experiment with a range of styles/techniques and playing to their strengths. This could be important given their journey ahead, creating and developing a greater sense of identity and confidence – which they must harness in order to seek and secure new opportunities whatever the setbacks.

      Our teaching role will become more facilitative, enhanced by technology. Research will continue to illuminate their learning. By 2026, our students will be expected to use and apply their knowledge more widely and broadly, becoming civically engaged; so that we have even more Birmingham Heroes: our individual students.

  2. This seems to be a clear example of the kind of ‘co-creation’ of curriculum and learning that is being rewarded in TEF.

  3. Why can’t we do this now? Students should be involved in co-creation of modules but if we ask students to design the assessments etc during the module how do we get a consensus that they will all agree to?

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