Course: Designing Effective Intended Learning Outcomes (August 2022)
I persist in being a fervent advocate for the use of a broader range of domains of learning, other than the cognitive domain (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom, 1956), in course design.
Higher education must surely be more than just about acquiring content and intellectual skills. A broader student experience should be embedded into each course, module and programme design, beyond that of acquiring purely intellectual skills.
The ‘graduate skills’ so demanded by employers are rarely without reference to so-called ‘soft skills’ (S. P. Atkinson, 2015). These are interpersonal domain skills, conflict resolution, cross-cultural awareness, collaboration and communications are what most graduates need most (J. C. Atkinson, 2014; Bennett, 1986). Alongside these the skills, often assumed by employers, to make effective use of software pertinent to that profession are rarely taught and assessed despite being critical to be effective on the day one. These skills can be set out and assessed using psychomotor domain outcomes (Dave, 1967). Such non-intellectual attributes are often seen by faculty as beyond their remit, as are also those values, the affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1956) and the development of personal epistemologies using a metacognitive domain (S. P. Atkinson, 2014) which form part of the maturation process within students themselves. These cannot be ‘taught’ in the strict sense, but their facilitation is entirely within the capabilities of able faculty.
Given that we know students are more likely to take anything assessed seriously, it is essential to write assessable outcomes across a range of skills. So, it is beholden on course designers to include the interpersonal domain (communications, cross-cultural awareness, conflict resolution), affective domain (values), metacognitive domain (personal epistemologies) and the psychomotor domain (manual and dexterity skills). Each has its place in all disciplines. There is clearly a craft in designing ILOs that motivate and steer learning but which are transparent and assessable. There is guidance on how to do that under the 8 Stage Learning Design Framework 8-SLDF and I am always willing to share practice with colleagues in workshops when requested.
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing : a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.
Atkinson, J. C. (2014). Education, Values and Ethics in International Heritage: Learning to Respect. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Group.
Atkinson, S. P. (2014). Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. London: BPP University College.
Atkinson, S. P. (2015). Graduate Competencies, Employability and Educational Taxonomies: Critique of Intended Learning Outcomes. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 154–177.
Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/0147-1767(86)90005-2
Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain (2nd edition). New York: Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd.
Dave, R. H. (1967). Psychomotor domain. Presented at the International Conference of Educational Testing, Berlin.
Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.