Curriculum Review: Program-level Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

A learning outcome is “an intended effect of the program educational experience that has been stated in terms of specific, observable, and measurable student performance” (Veltri, Webb, Matveev & Zapatero, 2011). They define the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students should be able to attain by the end of a unit of study.

The term ‘learning outcome’ is an umbrella term that is used. Learning outcomes can be articulated at the lesson level, course level, program level, faculty or institutional level. Faculty or institutional learning outcomes are typically discussed in broad terms and usually referred to as graduate attributes.

PLOs are the knowledge, skills and attributes that students are expected to attain by the end of a program of study. They are broader than course outcomes in that students typically cannot attain them by taking one course; usually, they need to take more than one course in order to build knowledge, grasping the essentials. They may be taken up in various ways in different courses, deepening students’ understanding as they progress through the program.

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