Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Design
Student learning outcomes are statements that describe how students will act and think differently as the result of having successfully completed a course. They focus on what the student will be able to do, rather than on the content being covered by the librarian. Well defined learning outcomes specify actions by students that are measureable, observable, and completed by the students themselves.
When designing curricula, librarians accomplish two goals:
- Connect learning outcomes to Assocation of College and Research Libraries' Standards, and
- Tailor assignments to course learning outcomes set by faculty.
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Critical Thinking and Active Learning
Critical thinking is the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
Critical thinking has two components:
- A set of skills to process and generate information and beliefs, and
- The habit of using those skills to guide behavior.
Active learning is a process that employs a variety of pedagogical approaches to place the primary responsibility of creating and applying knowledge on the students themselves. It puts the student at the center of the learning process, making him/her a partner in discovery, not a passive receiver of information. Active learning requires students to interact with and integrate course material by reading, writing, discussing, problem-solving, investigating, reflecting, and engaging in higher-order thinking tasks such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and critical thinking.
Research shows that active learning and cooperation among students were the best predictors of student educational gains in college . Active learning has also been shown to be a means to improve student retention and graduation rates .
Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning
|Knowledge||recall data or information|
|Comprehension||understand the meaning|
|Application||use concept in new situation|
|Analysis||understand organizational structure|
|Synthesis||build pattern from diverse elements, build whole from parts|
|Evaluation||make judgments about the value of ideas and materials
Examples of active learning techniques:
|Low complexity||clarification pause, daily journal, muddiest point, one-minute paper, note-taking pairs, think-pair-share|
|Moderate complexity||active review sessions, concept mapping, debates, evaluation of another student’s work, puzzles, role playing|
|High complexity||case study, cooperative groups on class, jigsaw group projects, send-a-problem|
 G.D. Kuh, "Working Together to Enhance Student Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom," In Assessing Impact: Evidence and Action, ed. B. Cambridge (Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education, 1997).
 R.M. Fedler, G.N. Felder and E.J. Dietz. "A Longitudinal Study of Engineering
Student Performance and Retention V. Comparisons with Traditionally-Taught
Students." Journal of Engineering Education 87, no. 4 (1998): 469-480.