Posted October 25, 2010 by Zack Wahlquist 

Depicting Learning Outcomes

The other day, a colleague forwarded me a link to a very interesting article from The Chronicle. The article is written by a faculty member and talks about the idea of using graphics (often in the form of a flow chart) to connect learning outcomes with the actual assignments of the course.

Effective for many reasons, I was personally intrigued by three things. First, graphic representations meet alternate learning strategies to connect with students who often do nothing more than gloss over anything in the syllabus that isn’t something they have to “do.” Second, it provides a direct connection for the student between course assignments and the things they should learn as a result. Finally, it provides the faculty member an opportunity to really determine if the things they ask students to do help them reach their stated learning outcomes.

I wonder if this could translate into student learning outcomes ACUI members use with their student employees and student leaders. The ACUI Forums are full of topics asking for resources in developing learning outcomes for these students. Are we sharing these outcomes with students in formats besides a list on a handout? Would we help students directly connect the work they do or the events they plan with what they are learning if we used charts and graphics to explain them?

I started a Forum thread on this topic and will be interested to see where it goes. The University of Michigan provided a great example of a graphic they use to demonstrate how their learning outcomes build on one another:

UUAP Learning Outcomes Pyramid 

Not only does it showcase learning outcomes of for their student program assistants in a new way, but it also shows the students that there is a potential for growth and development by working for University Unions Arts & Programs.

What do you think? Do you already do this? Looking forward to hearing from you!                                                         


Zack Wahlquist

Zack Wahlquist is the Director of Education at ACUI.


What I like about the graphic above (and the concept in general) is that it puts learning outcomes in a framework that students can comprehend. We have struggled with LOs in the past because the students we are using them with don't understand the concept behind it. Seeing it in these simple but powerful terms naturally leads the conversation to "so how do we help you in this area" or "what can you do to reach that next level?" I also like that it is a sort of progression - it's not an expectation that an incoming student exhibit competency in Leadership or Intercultural Maturity, or that they get there right away. But the natural learning process should give them the skill set to reach that point by the time the move on. See, something good can come out of that "school up North." :) --Jeff
Jeff Pelletier
Comment posted 10/26/2010 1:54 PM
The IUPUI campus adopted a set of six learning outcomes which we refer to as the Principals of Undergraduate Learning. Over the last 18 months, the Division of Student Life has also adopted the campus LO and are currently mapping our department functions with the accordingly. In the last six months, we mapped the student employee positions of the Campus Center with the LO and utilized this information with our staff during fall training this year. Most students know about the PUL's even if they do not know them by name. I am hoping to further develop the use of the LO's in our traninig with our student staff. An interesting process nonetheless.
Daniel Maxwell
Comment posted 11/01/2010 9:15 AM
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