Objectives, Outcomes and Progress

In this post, I am linking to content that I have posted elsewhere on the site. The following sessions are all related to lesson planning and design, and cover the following areas:

  1. Writing good learning objectives / the difference between objectives and outcomes
  2. Creating clear, measurable and achievable objectives
  3. Matching outcomes to objectives
  4. Sharing learning objectives to encourage cognition
  5. Tracking and narrating progress throughout lessons

Each session is only designed to be a quick introduction or reminder to the area.  I ran them as part of the English department morning meetings, in which we spent ten focused minutes working on Teaching and Learning.  They could, however, also form part of an intensive day for new starters to teach them the basics or be expanded into larger sessions.

1. The difference between learning objectives and outcomes

This is a very basic session, simply designed to ensure that the difference between objectives and outcomes is clear and that everyone is aware about how objectives should be phrased. This  important distinction is – at least part of – the basis of good lesson planning, so is important to run this early in any programme to ensure that any more advanced planning skills are built on this foundation.

I wanted it to be clear that a learning objective is about what knowledge, understanding or skill a student will gain during the lesson, while an outcome is what you want students to produce to demonstrate their learning.

10 Minute Skill Builders 1 -Objectives and Outcomes

2. Setting clear, measurable and achievable learning objectives

Building on the distinction between objectives and outcomes, I then decided to work on ensuring that objectives were written so that it was clear, both to students and teachers, exactly what was going to be achieved by the end of the lesson.  I think that this is a vital element in good lesson planning: confused objectives often leads to a confused lesson and confused students.

This session includes a short task, in which the group sift through objectives to determine whether they are clear, measurable and achievable.

10 Minute Skill Builders 2 – Clear Measurable Achievable Objectives

3. Matching outcomes to objectives

In this session, I wanted to outline the idea of having a succession of staggered outcomes that progress towards the achievement of the objective, often moving through basic knowledge to more complex skills.  I think this leads to carefully planned lessons and also because it instills a sense of learning and progression within the students themselves.

I shared two different methods of staggering outcomes, the first by grading them according to NC levels / GCSE grades (moving from a low level or grade to a high on throughout the lesson, and based, often, on mark scheme descriptors) and secondly by using SOLO taxonomy outcome verbs to show the development from basic factual learning to relational or abstract learning.

10 Minute Skill Builders 3 – Matching Outcomes to Objectives

4. Sharing the learning objective to encourage cognition

As well as having clear objectives and outcomes, I think that it is important that the students themselves have actually engaged cognitively with the objective, building on the idea that learning is more effective if purposeful.  This session contains a few ways of sharing objectives with students so that they cognitively engage with and internalise them.

Sharing objectives is an area in which teachers can be very creative, so I would ask participants to come up with their own methods, either as part of the session or before the next one.

10 Minute Skill Builders 4 – Sharing Objectives to Encourage Cognition

5. Tracking and Narrating Progress

Moving on from looking specifically at objectives and outcomes, I wanted to make this session about different techniques for helping students to see their own progress throughout the lesson, not to mention to make this visible to teachers themselves.

There a seven different techniques within the powerpoint, and I asked members of the department to take one each and present on these to the rest of the group.  I also asked them to bring their own versions or come up with new ones to bring to the following meeting.

10 Minute Skill Builders 5 – Tracking and Narrating Progress

Elsewhere in the Planning and Lesson Design section of the blog there will be many more detailed sessions about some of these issues, so have a look!



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