Outcome-based learning represents a paradigm shift from traditional teaching models. The change? from learning objectives to learning outcomes is far more than mere semantics; it means that the curriculum is now learner-centered. Traditionally, the teacher or instructor designs a curriculum and establishes learning objectives or goals; he then teaches the curriculum over a set period of time at the end of which students are assessed on their progress. This method is relatively passive for students with teachers actively inputting information. An outcome-based curriculum is likely to be constructivist in nature, building on pre-existing knowledge and experience. Learning methods may be more hands on, interactive and based on real-world tasks. Outcomes will be clearly defined and reflect what students are able to do.
An employee earning 90% on a traditional training course may be deemed to have effectively learned the material. However, has he learned 100% of the material with 90% accuracy? Or has he learned 90% of the material with 100% accuracy while having no understanding at all of the remaining 10%? The difference could be crucial in certain skill sets.
With an outcome-based curriculum, there will be a series of learning outcomes that either will or will not be achieved by the student. If all are essential in order for the employee to perform his or her job safely and efficiently, then that employee must show that all outcomes have been achieved in order to successfully complete the program. Outcome-based curricula allow students to proceed at their own pace with a clear view of the desired outcome. This system lends itself to independent, student-focused learning and self-evaluation.
Learning outcomes are basically 'can-do' statements, focusing on what a learner can actually do. Learning outcomes will not only focus on technical skills but will also include soft skills such as: attitudes, ability to work without supervision, decision-making ability, problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, values and ethics, etc. If organizations already have competency-based training in place, the learning outcomes will be closely correlated with the competencies required for a particular position; they are not, however, the same thing.
Competencies define the skills and knowledge — including soft skills — that are essential for the effective performance of a specific task. Learning outcomes require that the learner has demonstrated and proved understanding of a particular skill. As an example, for a student whose employment requires them to greet and socialize with clients in a second language, a desired competency could be 'understanding short social exchanges and small talk, including introductions and leave-taking'. The learning outcome would be that the student would be able to identify factual details and inferred meanings in a short social exchange and make appropriate responses.
Shift iQ offers online learning and talent management systems and solutions for your business. Its Learning Management module enables employers to use learning-based outcomes in their professional development and training programs and to make online training programs available to anyone, anytime, anywhere through cloud computing.