Outcome based learning or outcome-based education is an educational theory based on specific goals.
It is a student-centric instructional strategy focused on the pre-set outcome to be achieved by a student.
Thus, the target has to be well defined at the beginning of a programme or course of study.
With 2022, being celebrated as the year of educational excellence and J&K UT has taken a lead in the implementation of National Educational Policy (NEP)-2020, it is high time to discuss and deliberate upon outcome-based education as it is one of the main focus of the policy.
The NEP-2020 policy document mentions the word ‘outcome’ about 40 times while ‘learning outcomes’ is repeated around 20 times.
Outcome based education was first introduced by William Spady in 1988.
“Outcome-Based Education (OBE) is a student-centric teaching and learning methodology in which the course delivery and assessment are planned to achieve stated objectives and outcomes. It focuses on measuring students’ performance i.e outcomes at different levels.”
The thrust is on what a student is able to do after completing a course or programme. Being student-centric, it empowers students to choose why and how they would like to study. For outcome-based learning, a certain framework model has to be developed and followed; the first step is to identify desired outcomes, design outcome-based curriculum, adopt and use appropriate teaching-learning pedagogical tools and design suitable assessment to measure attainment of the learning outcomes.
In this process, the teacher is a co-learner and collaborator and has the role of a mentor and facilitator. He has a challenging role to create opportunities to enable students for critical thinking so as to develop application and problem-solving skills promoting higher order learning of application, analysis and synthesis.
For outcome-based education, it is primary to understand ‘learning objectives’ and draw the difference between ‘learning objectives’ and ‘learning-outcomes’.
A learning objective is the teacher’s purpose for creating and teaching a course. These are the specific questions that the teacher wants this course to raise (input).
In comparison, learning outcomes are the answers to those questions (output). These are specific, measurable knowledge and skills that the learner will gain by taking this course.
Learning objectives are usually viewed from the teachers’ perspective i.e, what does the teacher want to achieve? While learning outcomes are seen more from the learner’s perspective or it is what will the program/ course teach him, as a learner?
The outcomes should be specific (well defined), achievable (realistic), and measurable (analysis, synthesis). The members of the Board of Studies should therefore consider these points which will prove helpful in designing course content and learning outcomes accordingly.
Ther learning outcomes for a course or for a programme should be written in future tense like a student will be able to, language has to be simple so that learner can understand it easily.
Appropriate and acceptable verbs have to be used like to draw, to design, to distinguish, to analyse, to critically appraise, to synthesize, to develop, to think innovatively.
Unacceptable verbs like to know, to understand, to appreciate, to enjoy, to believe etc., shouldn’t be used to define the learning outcomes.
Thus, outcome-based education requires restructuring of the curriculum which is known as learning outcomes-based curriculum framework which was adopted by UGC in 2018 under LOCF.
Pedagogy adopted and the methods of assessment used are important in achieving and reflecting the attainment of specific goals as outcome-based education is not mere accumulation of credits but attainment of higher-order learning.
NEP-2020 advocates developing and adopting pedagogy which emphasize on holistic development of learners like experiential learning, discussion-based learning, art integrated learning, flipped classroom etc.
A teacher has to have a thorough understanding of the different pedagogies and then adopt the method which is most effective for the students in his classroom.
On 21 October, Guidelines for Pedagogical Approaches and Evaluation/Assessment have been put in public domain by UGC and comments/suggestions have been invited from all the stakeholders latest by 14 Nov 2022.
The said document is elaborate and explains the different pedagogical approaches which will help teachers to improve and innovate the art of teaching-learning.
It also addresses different learning needs and has categorized this into four domains – cognitive, social, affective and psychomotor. The learning needs have also been linked to different graduate attributes and the pedagogy approach to be adopted has also been suggested.
The multiple pedagogical approaches like flipped classroom, case-based instruction, project-based learning, art-integrated learning, experiential learning, group discussions, brainstorming, role plays, field-based learning like visits to industrial units, research labs and other institutes suggested for teaching-learning will promote constructive learning and active involvement of learners to achieve the pre-defined goals.
All the members of faculty of institutes of learning like universities and colleges must go through these guidelines, hold deliberations and discussions and come up with suggestions and feedback.
Adopting appropriate pedagogy is essential to ensure an effective teaching-learning process. A teacher is no longer just a mere transmitter of information or knowledge but he has to turn into a facilitator, counselor, mentor, course designer, content creator, ICT expert, evaluator, reflective practitioner and life-long learner.
Assessment is a key to check the attainment of learning goals and the effectiveness or the changes to be made in the pedagogy used.
Thus, the assessment and evaluation system needs to be robust. Assessment has to be continuous and comprehensive with more emphasis on formative assessment and in-semester activities (continuous internal assessment) rather than giving more weightage to summative assessment (end semester exams) as envisaged in NEP-2020.
Assessment design should map to check the attainment of learning outcomes or a criterion-based grading system has to be evolved which will check the level of each goal achieved. Rubrics in matrix form as an assessment tool is useful to grade students against each criterion or standard.
It is high time to design and adopt assessment modes which correspond to higher levels of Taxonomy - application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
Either used independently or in combination any of the following methods can be used; time-constrained tests, open book tests, problem based, assignments, practical assignment reports, portfolios, case-study, presentations, viva-voce interviews, composite MCQ, computerized adaptive tests, peer and self-assessment.
The outcomes of any program or course to be achieved are linked with specific pedagogical approaches adopted and the appropriate tools used for both formative/diagnostic assessment and summative evaluation.
Empirical evidence for this write-up was presented at the two-day National Conference organized by GDC Baramulla on Aug 24 and 25 of 2022.
The author is Assistant Professor (Biotechnology), JKHED posted at Islamia College of Science and Commerce Srinagar
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.