OUTCOMES BASED/ OUTCOMES FOCUSED EDUCATION
Mollie Butler, RN, PhD (Candidate)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OUTCOMES BASED/OUTCOMES FOCUSED EDUCATION 3
OBE Roots 5
OBE Philosophy 7
OBE Principles 8
OBE Purpose 9
Assessment Criteria 11
OUTCOMES BASED/OUTCOMES FOCUSED EDUCATION
Outcomes based education (OBE) is a process that involves the restructuring of curriculum, assessment and reporting practices in education to reflect the achievement of high order learning and mastery rather than the accumulation of course credits” (Tucker, 2004).
Thus the primary aim of OBE is to facilitate desired changes within the learners, by increasing knowledge, developing skills and/or positively influencing attitudes, values and judgment. OBE embodies the idea that the best way to learn is to first determine what needs to be achieved. Once the end goal (product or outcome) has been determined the strategies, processes, techniques, and other ways and means can be put into place to achieve the goal.
Outcomes are clear learning results that learners have to demonstrate at the end of significant learning experiences: what learners can actually do with what they know and have learned. Outcomes are actions/ performances that embody and reflect learner competence in using content, information, ideas and tools successfully. Geyser (1999) says when learners do important things with what they know they have taken a significant step beyond knowing itself. Vella, Berardinelli & Burrow (1998) reminds us of the importance of accountability mechanisms (learner assessment) that directly reflect student performance and help learners “know what they know”. Thus outcomes describe the results of learning over a period of time – the results of what is learned versus what is taught.
Initial and diagnostic assessment involves the process used by trainers to get to know the learners and making a healthy relationship with them. Gravells and Simpson (2010) provided that the initial assessment occurs when learners are introduced to new learning programs. It is a comprehensive approach whereby the trainer and the learner begin to create a picture of their achievements, interests ...
OBE is defined as a “…comprehensive approach to organizing and operating an education system that is focused in and defined by the successful demonstrations of learning sought from each student” (Spady, 1994).
An Education Department of Western Australia document describes OBE as “an educational process which is based on trying to achieve certain specified outcomes in terms of individual student learning. Thus, having decided what are the key things students should understand and be able to do or the qualities they should develop, both structures and curricula are designed to achieve those capabilities or qualities. Educational structures and curriculum are regarded as means not ends. If they do not do the job, they are rethought” (Willis & Kissane, 1995).
Tucker (2004) notes that OBE and outcomes focused education (OFE) are often confused or used synonymously. He seeks to clarify the confusion noting while an OBE system is one in which the outcomes drive the whole course content and assessment structure, OFE is one in which learner outcomes (the result of student learning) are specifically identified in discipline-based courses and units. The assessment processes, he says, are designed specifically to assess the learners’ achievement of the outcomes. In this paper OBE and OFE are used synonymously.
Behind these definitions lie an approach to planning, delivering and evaluating instruction that requires administrators, teachers and learners to focus their respective attention and efforts on the desired results of education (Killen, 2000) and to be accountable for what transpires (Spady, 1994; Vella, et al, 1998).
The shift toward OBE is similar to the total quality movement as it reflects the best way for individuals and organizations to get where they are going is first to determine where they want to be then plan backward to determine the best way to get from here to there. Proponents of OBE assume there are many ways to arrive at the same results. OBE is currently favored internationally in countries such as Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and United States (Malan, 2000).
Be able to conduct and record assessments in accordance with internal and external processes and requirements 2.1 Review the assessment requirements and related procedures of learning programmes (AQA. 2012).Assessment is the process by which a learner’s skills and knowledge are reviewed in order to evaluate what they have learnt or in the case of NVQs, how they are performing against the ...
An outcomes based approach to education dates back some 500 years to craft guilds of the Middle Ages in Europe in the form of apprenticeship training models and there are many examples still in place today (Spady, 1996).
Malan (2000) analyzed past educational reforms that influenced OBE and identified the following:
❖ Tyler’s educational objectives In 1950 Tyler identified fundamental issues important when developing and planning instruction, including purpose, content, organization and evaluation. He believed objectives were essential for systematic planning and identifying the required learner behaviour post instruction as well as the content and context to apply it within. His curriculum design approach continued to influence teaching for several decades and the basic philosophy for outcomes based design is rooted there (Arjun, 1998 cited in Malan, 2000)
❖ Bloom’s mastery learning Bloom taxonomies for educational objectives emerged in the 1950s and helped to determine whether learners had attained acceptable standards compared to desired learning outcomes. His mastery learning theory was based on the premise that with sufficient opportunities and support from an appropriate learning environment most learners are successful in their learning tasks. This notion is reflected in OBE. Other characteristics of mastery learning include:
➢ Ascertaining prerequisite knowledge or skills to attain goals (outcomes)
➢ A flexible timeframe to attain goals (outcomes)
➢ Using different media and materials to create enriched teaching/learning contexts
➢ Formative evaluation to provide feedback for both teaching and learning improvement
❖ Competency based education was introduced in the 1960s in North America in response to growing concerns that students were not being taught what they required after they left school. Malan (2000) summarizes the following components from the competency based literature, noting their prominent in OBE:
It is important to have a holistic approach to managing pain and discomfort by looking at the situation as a whole. Not just the physical side but also the mental, emotional, spiritual and social needs. Conventional medicine, alternative and complementary therapies can be used as options to relieve pain and other symptoms if desired. The care plan has been made with information which supports ...
➢ Explicit learning outcomes with respect to the required skills and concomitant proficiency (standards for assessment)
➢ A flexible timeframe to master skills
➢ A variety of instructional activities to facilitate learning
➢ Criterion referenced testing of the required outcomes
➢ Certification based on demonstrated learning outcomes
➢ Adaptable programmes to ensure optimum learner guidance
➢ Support for the notion the learner is accountable for his or her own achievement
❖ Glaser’s criterion-referenced learning: In 1963, Glaser described criterion-referenced measurement as that which locates a student’s test behaviour on a continuum ranging from “no proficiency” to “perfect performance”. Criterion-reference instruction and assessment is based on attaining specific outcomes and on testing for competence in terms of stated criterion. This form of instruction compares a learning outcome or mastery of competencies with a predetermined external standard. Success is measured by demonstration of standards followed by remedial intervention as required. Criterion-referenced assessment is the preferred mode of assessment in OBE.
❖ Spady’s OBE approach closely resembles Mager’s (1962) guidelines in terms of expected performance, conditions under which it is attained and standards for assessed quality. OBE learning programme assessment and learner’s competence can be compared to specific criteria. Competence in the required outcome (learner behaviours) is demonstrated by culminated of significant learning within a context, and specific timeframe required by the individual learner. OBE is explored in greater detail in the following sections.
OBE can be regarded as a theory (or a philosophy) of education (Killen, 2000).
Within OBE there are a certain set of beliefs and assumptions about learning, teaching and the systemic structures within which activities take place. Spady (1994) proposes three basic assumptions: all learners can learn and succeed; success breeds success; and “teaching institutions” (schools) control the conditions of success.
Performance based assessment is most commonly known as and educational assessment which judges the student knowledge and skills based on observation of the student behavior or the inspection of students products. On the other hand, standardized testing is a written form test, which measures the temporary understanding of facts and skills. As a result of standardized testing outcomes being ...
Killen (2000) defines two basic types of outcome. The first includes performance indicators often measured in terms of tests results, completion rates, post course employment, and so forth. It also emphasizes learner mastery of traditional subject related academic outcomes/content and some cross discipline outcomes (such as problem solving or working cooperatively).
The second is less tangible and usually expressed in terms of what the learners know, are able to do or are like as a result of their education. It stresses long term, cross-curricular outcomes which relate to future life roles of the learner (such as being a productive worker, a responsible citizen or parent).
These two approaches are what Spady (1994) respectively calls traditional/transactional (content based) and transformational (outcomes based) learning systems. See below latter is the focus of this research and includes standards to be consistently demonstrated by the learner at the end of a significant learning experience.
Content Based Learning Versus Outcomes Based Learning
(Source: Spady, 1994)
|Content Based Learning System |Outcomes Based Learning System |
|Passive students |Active learners |
|Assessment process – exam & grade driven |Continuous assessment |
|Rote learning |Critical thinking, reasoning, reflection & action |
|Content based/broken into subjects |Integration knowledge, learning relevant/ connected real life situations |
|Textbook/worksheet focused & teacher centred |Learner centred & educator/ facilitator use group/ teamwork |
|See syllabus as rigid & non negotiable |Learning programmes seen as guides that allow educators to be innovative & creative|
| |in designing programmes/ activities |
Assessment based instruction is instruction that evolves from assessment to assessment. The assessment dictates the instruction, instead of the instruction dictating the assessment. In this paper the following is discussed: key components of assessment-based instruction, how assessment has shaped instruction in the last 20 years, how assessment improves instruction and learning, and the challenges ...
|Teachers/trainers responsible for learning – |Learners take responsibility for their learning, learners motivated by constant |
|motivated by personality of teacher |feedback/ affirmation of worth |
|Emphasis what teacher hopes to achieve |Emphasis outcomes – what learner becomes & understands |
|Content placed in rigid time frames |Flexible time frames – learners work at own pace |
|Stay in single learning institution until complete |Learners can gather credits different institutions until achieve |
| |Qualification |
|Previous knowledge & experience in learning field |Recognition of prior learning: after pre-assessment, learners credited outcomes |
|ignored – Each time attends whole course |demonstrated or transfer credits elsewhere |
Four principles guide the transformational OBE approach, taken together they strengthen the conditions for both learner and teacher success:
❖ clarity of focus
❖ design down
❖ high expectations
❖ expanded opportunities
According to Spady (1998) the basic principle of transformational OBE is the clarity of the focus. This principle infers that curriculum development, implementation and evaluation should be geared by the outcomes which are expected as the culminating demonstrations of the learners. The principle clearly delineates that the articulation of the desired end point is essential for successful outcomes (Willis & Kissane, 1997).
Curriculum planners and educators have to identify a clear focus on what they want learners to be able to demonstrate at the end of significant learning time. Once these outcomes have been identified, the curriculum is constructed by backward mapping of knowledge and skills. The design down aspect infers that all curricular and educational activities should be designed back from the point where the “exit outcomes” are expected to happen.
Understand how to involve learners in the assessment process 1.evaluate how to involve the learner n the assessment process 2.Analyse the role of peer and self assessment in the assessment process Learners flourish with the help of well-trained teachers who know how to clarify the learning objectives, assess the leaner’s, and make changes along the way that can support the maximum learning ...
The principle of high expectations elicits higher level of standards then would normally be set as only those can be labeled completed. Further learners are supported to culminate higher level of performance (Spady, 1998).
Expanded opportunities provide for a flexible approach in time and teaching methodologies matched against the needs of the learner allowing more than one opportunity to succeed (Killen, 2000).
Each of these principles are explored and applied to practice below.
Outcomes Based Principles – explanation & application
(Source: Spady, 1994; Killen, 2000)
|OBE Principles |Explanation |Application to practice |
|Clarity of focus |Focus on what want learners be able to do |Help learners develop competencies |
| |successfully |Enable predetermined significant outcomes |
| | |Clarify short & long term learning intentions |
| | |Focus assessments on significant outcomes |
|Design down |Begin curriculum design with a clear |Develop systematic education curricula |
| |definition of the significant learning |Trace back from desired end results |
| |that learners are to achieve by the end of|Identity “learning building blocks” |
| |their formal education |Link planning, teaching & assessment decisions to |
| | |significant learner outcomes |
|High expectations |Establish high, challenging performance |Engage deeply with issues are learning |
| |standards |Push beyond where normally have gone |
|Expanded opportunities |Do not learn same thing in same way in |Provide multiple learning opportunities matching learner’s |
| |same time |needs with teaching techniques |
Spady (1994) emphasizes that the decision of what and whether the learners learn is more important than when it happens and through what means (how) they learn it. He therefore identifies two key aims for OBE:
❖ Ensure all learners are successful in that they are equipped with the knowledge, skills and qualities (values and attitudes) required after they exit the educational system
❖ Achieve and maximize selected outcomes for all students by structuring and operating education facilities to be success oriented.
Spady also advises that while all learners can learn and succeed, they cannot do so on the same day because learners have different learning rates as well as learning styles. Further since successful learning breeds more successful learning the importance of having a stronger cognitive and psychological foundation of prior learning cannot be underestimated. And since the conditions directly affecting learning are under the “educational system’s control”, learning is dependent on the willingness of teachers and others to believe in the approach and support learners in their learning. As OBE philosophy requires educators focus more broadly on accomplishing results versus simply providing a service, it differs greatly from more traditional forms of education, most notably in it’s:
❖ overall approach (framework)
❖ perception of time
❖ what and how standards are assessed
❖ how performance is determined
Each of these four areas is further explored below. Key to this approach is clear learning outcomes around which all of the system’s components can be focused. Importantly is the requirement of establishing conditions as well as the opportunities that enable and encourage all learners to achieve the essential outcomes (Spady, 1994).
Learning Systems: Content Based versus Outcomes Based
(Source: Spady, 1994)
|Learning System |Content Based (Traditional/Transactional) |Outcomes Based (Transformational) |
|Characteristics | | |
|Framework |Predefined curriculum, assessment & credentialing in place |Curriculum, instructional strategies, assessment & |
| |Structures “ends”, no defined learners’ outcomes |performed standards |
| | |Structures support outcomes, flexible & a means to |
| | |define “learning ends” |
|Time |Inflexible constraint for educator & learner schedule controls|Used alterable source – match needs of educator & |
| |learning & success |learners |
|Performance standards |Comparative & competitive approach |Learners potentially able receive credit for |
| |Linked to predetermined “curve” or quota of possible successes|achieving performance standards |
| | |No quotas & standards pursued |
|Learning assessments |Continuous testing & permanent grading |Macro view learning & achievement |
| |Mistakes on permanent record: best grades & records fast & |Mistakes inevitable steps in development, |
| |consistent performers; slower learners never catch up |internalizing & demonstrating high level of |
| |Never assess/ document what learners can ultimately do |performance capabilities |
| |successfully |Ultimate achievement what able to do |
Killen (2000) says to be useful in an OBE system, assessment criteria should conform to the following principles:
❖ The assessment procedures should be valid – they should assess what they are intended to assess
❖ The assessment procedures should be reliable – they should give consistent results
❖ The assessment procedures should be fair – they should not be influenced by any irrelevant factors such as the learner’s cultural background
❖ Assessment should reflect the knowledge and skills that are most important for learners to learn
❖ Assessment should tell educators and individual learners something they do not already know, stretching learners to the limits of their understanding and ability to apply their knowledge
❖ Assessment should be comprehensive and explicit
❖ Assessment should support every learner’s opportunity to learn things that are important
❖ Because learners are individuals, assessment should allow this individuality to be demonstrated
As well, to ensure fair, equitable and transparent judgment, the criteria used during the assessment process must be identified, formulated and made known to all candidates before assessment takes place. The implications of Spady’s four principles in determining whether a candidate’s demonstration/performance was sufficient, are that assessment must be summative (continuous monitoring with feedback), performance based (authentic in the workplace/ real life environment) and criterion referenced (assessment criteria).
The transition from traditional/transactional learning to transformative outcomes based learning requires educators to facilitate the learning process by creating and expanding learning opportunities. The learner’s role is to actively participate in and contribute towards the learning process. To facilitate learning curriculum (learning programme) development is essential.
There are many positive aspects to OBE, particularly from a transformational viewpoint. It supports a rational approach to education as a means rather than an end in itself and support cooperative versus competitive learning. It demands that those who plan, manage and account for what happens to focus their efforts onto learning and attainment of desired outcomes as opposed to curriculum content and achievement of grades. Learning is no longer time and teacher dependent. Learners, educators and others who support learning have to become more attune to creating the conditions that supports learning and attainment of desired outcomes. As noted by Spady (1994), OBE demands a “…commitment to continuous growth and improvement is critical to success”.
Additional OBE Terms with Definitions (Source: Geyser, 1999)
|OBE TERMS |DEFINITION |
|Exit Outcomes |Highest level & most complex |
| |Formulated using high powered performance verbs |
| |Can impact learners, organizations & instructional process |
| |Refer to applied competencies learners should demonstrate |
|Programme Outcomes |Reflects all exit outcomes |
|Specific Outcomes |Formulate for each exit outcome |
| |Serve as basis to establish what competencies to be mastered |
| |Achievement process as important as reaching exit outcomes |
| |Used to derive assessment criteria |
|Practical Competence |Demonstrated ability to consider range of options & make decisions about: |
| |Facilitate learning in diverse learning groups & one-to-one basis |
| |Learning needs & requirements of individuals, organizations & communities |
| |Strategic management leadership – internal work environment in relation to work organization & |
| |restructuring, information & communication systems, staffing & labour, quality improvements systems |
| |Designing & developing learning systems across institutions & sectors |
| |Evaluating strengths & limitations – processes, materials, media, programmes & systems |
|Functional Competence |Demonstrated understanding of: |
| |Learning – holistic, creative & life-long process, different knowledge forms & life worlds |
| |Socio-cultural, language & literacy differences in groups, communities & broader society |
| |Concepts, principles, & procedures relevant decisions |
| |Changing nature of nursing – local, national & global contexts |
|Reflexive Competence |Demonstrated ability to: |
| |Evaluate nursing practice & collaborative practice with other professionals |
| |Integrate learner performance |
| |Learn from own action |
| |Adapt to changes or unforeseen circumstances |
|Assessment Criteria (for |Learner should: |
|integrated competence) |Generate, explore & consider options for appropriate action |
| |Identify appropriate action – particular context, topic, learner group/ level, & resources |
| |Explain particular session selection |
| |Perform identified action |
| |Continuously monitor & adapt performance as required |
| |Explain reasons for performance |
| |Evaluate performance and identify areas for improvement |
| |Reflect on learning & performance |
| |Develop plan/strategy future action integrating what learned through reflection |
|Integrated Assessment |Process which determines learner’s applied competence |
| |Range of assessment practice |
| |Over a length of time |
| |In diverse contexts |
|Criterion Referenced |Assess learners in relation to programme/ module outcomes: |
|Assessment |Clearly identify outcomes |
| |Determine assessment purpose & use of results |
| |Design performance task elicit expected outcomes |
| |Specify assessment criteria |
| |Select & construct scoring & recording instruments |
|Assessment Criteria |Broad evidence statements to decide if specific outcome has been achieved |
| |observable processes |
| |learning products |
|Range Statements |Exact details of what & how much learning |
| |Mark acceptable level of statements |
| |Increase in complexity & sophistication |
| |Not required for all assessment criteria |
|Learning Units/Modules |Breakdown of whole programme |
| |Varying lengths |
| |Three types – fundamental, core & elective |
|Fundamental Modules |Includes leaning which forms grounding/basis |
|Core Modules |Includes compulsory learning |
|Elective Modules |Includes additional credits |
In summary, the focus of education has shifted from the educator to learner however this shift requires change within the educational system in order to facilitate learning. Establishing an OBE system for education is the best way for a particular learner to reach the desired outcomes. The role of the educator is to enable and encourage all learners to achieve essential outcomes while the learner actively participates in and contributes towards the learning process. OBE also demands a commitment to continuing professional development and lifelong learning.
❖ Arjun, P. 1998. An Evaluation of the Proposed New Curriculum for Schools in Relation to Kuhn’s Conception of Paradigms and Paradigms Shifts. South African Journal of Higher Education, 12(1), 20-26. Cited in B. Malan, 2000. The New Paradigm of Outcomes-based Education in Perspective. Tydskrif vir Verbruikerwetenskappe. 28, 22-28. Accessed September 18, 2004 from
❖ Geyser, H. 1999. Phase 2: Workshop 1: Developing OBET Programmes for Higher Education. Higher Education Policy Unit: Rand Afrikaans University.
❖ Killen, R. 2000. Outcomes-Based Education: Principles and Possibilities. Unpublished manuscript. University of Newcastle, Australia: Faculty of Education. Retrieved September 11, 2004 from .
❖ Malan, B. 2000. The New Paradigm of Outcomes-based Education in Perspective. Tydskrif vir Verbruikerwetenskappe, 28, 22-28. Retrieved September 18, 2004 from
❖ Spady, W. 1994. Outcomes Based Education: Critical Issues and Answers. American Association of School Administration: Arlington, Virginia.
❖ Spady, W. 1996. Why Business Can’t Afford the Trashing of OBE. Northern Territory Department of Education. Retrieved 31 October 2002, from www.schools.nt.edu.au/curricbr/cf/outcomefocus/OBE_and_business.pdf.
❖ Tucker, B. 2004. Literature Review: Outcomes-focused Education in Universities. Learning Support Network, Curtin University of Technology. Retrieved October 19, 2004, from .
❖ Vella, J., Berardinelli, P. & Burrow, J. 1998. How Do They Know They Know: Evaluating Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
❖ Willis, S. & Kissane, B. 1995. Outcome-Based Education: A Review of the Literature. Prepared for the Education Department of Western Australia.
❖ Willis, S. & Kissane, B. 1997. Achieving Outcome-Based Education. Perth, Western Australia: Education Department of Western Australia.