Aligning learning outcomes

Aligning the various outcomes across and within an institution is important to ensure that students experience an integrated and supported learning experience throughout the entire institution and acquire the intended proficiencies outcomes combine to develop. Alignment is important because it ensures that outcomes (institutional, general education, program, and course level), disciplinary standards, accreditation needs, and national initiatives (such as LEAP) are congruent. Such alignment also makes it easier for students to move smoothly from one stage of their education to the next. Alignment also refers to the logical relationships between the intended outcomes and the curricular and co-curricular learning experiences that contribute to the proficiencies that undergird the outcomes statements, along with the assignments that demonstrate students’ attainment of requisite knowledge and skills. Appendix C contains an example of an outcomes-aligned syllabus. Different levels of outcomes must be aligned with one another and/or with the curriculum and co-curriculum so that students can make connections between their various learning experiences and see coherent proficiencies in what they are accomplishing. Among the more promising approaches to the alignment task are curriculum mapping and career profile development.