‘Inspire’ HEA Annual Teaching and Learning Conference. Brighton 2016



Within Higher Education there is increasing need to make transparent the processes that regulate student assessment. The activity I presented at the HEA annual conference examines the prickly subject of academic learning outcomes, and considers how we can help make their definitions more explicit and easier for all students to engage with. A student with exceptional capabilities may already address every learning outcome successfully without ever having to read them, However, many students find the terminology that academies use to present the learning outcomes confusing. Staff help this a little by considering and discussing the relevant LOS for each particular unit at the launch of each brief and thats about it. So I would question –

Is that enough?

What about the students that miss unit briefings?

What about perpetual non attenders?

What doe all that academic jargon really say?

How can I help my student understand this more clearly?

And why are learning outcomes, that are so intrinsic to the final assessment of a students work, not integrated into the course structure more successfully?


The main intention of the workshop was to present an activity that encouraged student and staff dialogue in relation to understanding the learning outcomes and through a socially situated, shared practice to establish common standards that the group feel best represent the academic Learning Outcome descriptors.

The activity was modeled on workshops piloted within the NUA Design School alongside UG and PG students. It consisted of a series of rapid mind mapping and group discussions to aid and support student cognition of the academic learning outcome process and also to help students and staff to mutually agree on the explicit requirements as represented by academic learning outcomes.

Break out session: 01:


Each group is provided with the opportunity to discuss their changes, additions, motives and any conflicts they had whilst revising the original definition.

Break out session: 02:


Each group is asked to revisit their Learning Outcome revision and reduce the interpretation to a short and succinct statement, in the understanding that these final statements will contribute to the development of a series a flash cards to assist discussion within subsequent group tutorials.

Break out session: 03:


A final session provides each group with the opportunity to present their mutually agreed learning outcome definitions to the rest of the class, and for the entire group to discuss advantages and possible disadvantages in adopting these new definitions within critiques and tutorials.



Prototype flash cards developed within piloted workshops demonstrate how these new definitions are used within the learning environment, cards also demonstrate how such activities can be lead towards the development of a useful design strategy / learning tool.hea05 hea04


Slides from my HEA conference workshop event can be downloaded HERE