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Teaching Tip: Linking Assignments to Learning Outcomes

Adapted from Scaffolding Student Learning Tips for Getting Started (Faculty Focus)

Take some time to evaluate how you’ve designed the learning experiences in your courses. Reflect on whether (or not) the assignments/assessments for the course are clearly linked to the learning outcomes of the course.

While completing this exercise, you may discover that either you have an assignment that is no longer relevant or you are missing something that might even be a more meaningful gauge of student learning.

  • Write a brief description of each major assignment/assessment. The description must include the learning outcomes you intend to evaluate using the assignment/assessment.
  • List the skills and knowledge the students need to have and know in order to be successful in the assignment/assessment. If there is anything on the list that the students will not learn about in the course, is this a pre-requisite for the course?
  • Is successfully completing the assignment/assessment a reasonable expectation for the students? Will you cover or expose the students to what they need to know to be successful on the assessments?
  • Look at the scope of the course to determine if there are any mini assignments or learning experiences that can be purposefully introduced throughout the schedule of sessions in a way that offers learners time to learn and practice the knowledge and skills they need to have to be successful in the major assignments.
  • Create a visual curriculum map or outline showing how each major assignment/assessment is related and linked to the teaching and learning strategies and activities as well as to the outcomes of the course.
  • Is there a rationale for the assignment included in the description of the assignment? Is the relevance of the assignment/assessment clearly explained?

Resources

Hogan, K., & Pressley, M. (Eds.). (1997). Scaffolding student learning: Instructional approaches and issues. Louiseville, Quebec: Brookline Books.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (J. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds. & Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Submitted by:
Valerie Lopes, Ph.D.
Director, Teaching & Learning
Seneca College
Toronto, Ontario
senecacollege.ca/teaching