Learning Outcome Workshop – Kohima, Nagaland – 22nd to 26th April, 2019
Learning Outcome Workshop – Kohima, Nagaland – 22nd to 26th April, 2019
A 5-day Orientation Program/ Workshop on Learning Outcomes for Teacher Educators of Nagaland was conducted by members of Azim Premji University at SCERT, Kohima, from 22nd to 26th April, 2019.
Day 1: Learning outcomes and NAS assessment findings for understanding student learning
This day’s sessions were focused on building perspective for understanding learning outcomes (LOs), as well as their interpretation and embeddedness in school curriculum. The primary focus was to get an understanding of the meaning of learning outcomes and their importance in terms of students’ learning. The session started with an activity of ‘Think-Pair-Share’ where the participants were asked to share their thoughts on the meaning of learning outcome. Broadly, the participants answers were grouped into four category questions – ‘Are LOs for students or for teachers?’, ‘Are LOs focused on process or product of learning?’, ‘Are LOs, objectives and goals of education the same?’, and ‘How LOs can make the learning such that it can be applied to real life situation?’. The answers to these questions were clarified through detailed explanation and examples. However, most of the participants were still not aware of what does learning outcome actually mean. One reason can be, most of the participants have not used or seen learning outcomes yet.
The next activity was on understanding Nagaland students learning outcomes – NAS report was considered for this activity. All the participants were divided into three groups and a pop quiz sheet was given to them to understand their perception about students’ performance in different subjects across different grades, gender and location. This activity was an eye opener for the participants as at the end of this activity some of their perceptions met reality and they could see the difference. Some examples of the mismatch were, ‘All three teams unanimously thought that girl students will do better in Languages as they are more sincere, fond of reading and emotional while boy students will do better in Science and Mathematics as they are good in hands on activity and logical thinking’, ‘Urban students’ performance will be better than rural students because of better resources in urban areas’, ‘Students performance in EVS is better than Mathematics as it is learnt in Language of instruction’, etc. We were not able to consolidate all groups and all questions answers together at the end of pop quiz though the questions were summarized individually due to lack of time. We feel the consolidation was necessary to make the activity more effective.
The seating arrangement of the room was not very interaction friendly as all the participants were facing the facilitator which restricted interaction in groups.
Day 2: Learning Outcomes, Pedagogical Processes and Assessment and Characteristics of Learning Outcomes
The day started with a change in the seating arrangement before the participants arrived. The column and row wise arrangement was broken to make eight tables with six chairs arrangement. This day sessions provided a platform for discussion on the linkages of goals of education, learning objectives, learning outcomes, pedagogy and assessment. A video on the importance of constructive alignment between the three core components of a subject – learning outcomes, pedagogical processes (PP) and assessment was shown to the participants to explain the concept of ‘Constructive Alignment’. This video was extremely effective to explain this tricky concept (most of the participants mentioned about this video in their exit slips). One of the participant asked a very interesting question – ‘Do we align LOs, PPs and assessment with respect to content or level of understanding’. To answer this question, the two components of learning outcome statement that is ‘noun-content’ and ‘verb-level of understanding’ was explained with an explanation on how Bloom’s taxonomy provides a framework for alignment. The previous day discussion on how LOs can be defined such that the learning can be used in real life situation helped in discussing the concept of ‘Constructivism’. Another interesting question from one of the participant on characteristics of learning outcome statement brought in the concept of SMART LOs. Participants questions helped to connect the different concepts discussed during this day’s session. Several activities on analyzing LOs for one grade and subject and deriving LOs from curricular expectations (learning objectives) helped participants to get clarity on the meaning of learning outcomes and their importance in effective teaching-learning.
The seating arrangement helped in making sessions lively and interactive. The number of concepts and activities was on the higher end. Constructive alignment concept was spilled over from Day 1 due to slow pace in day 1 and lesser number of hours devoted to workshop. Fewer and deeper activities should be included as compared to quick and large number of activities as this will increase participants’ engagement and understanding.
Day 3: Stage specific objectives, learning outcomes, pedagogical processes of different school subjects
When was the last time you took stock of a given situation both telescopically & microscopically, a la Powers of 10? Well, the workshop on Learning Outcomes (LO) offers you just that.
From Learning Outcomes to Learning Objectives (aka Curricular Expectations) to the Goals of that subject helps look at the uniqueness it and its interconnections with others. It is a humbling experience that irrespective of one’s subject, we strive to pass on the constitutional values to our students. When we see that LOs are made from Learning Indicators (LI), the pedagogic shift from ‘delivering the plain content of a textbook’ to ‘facilitating LO of a given content’ is a tough but crackable nut to crack. Taking the participants through the Constructivist Alignment of LOs, the pedagogic processes (aka Teaching & Learning Activities) and the assessment was the gist of our Kohima sojourn.
Reading (& reading in-between the lines) of subject specific Position Papers made the group look at the perceptions, challenges and aspirations of a subject. The participants enjoyed the activity of preparing chart on learning objectives, assessment and pedagogical processes defined for each subject. My reflection is every Position Paper needs lots of ruminations to get the essence of it.
Day 4: Pedagogical principles and constructively aligned teaching learning environment
From subject-specific Position Papers and back to the individual Learning Outcome via pedagogic processes inside a classroom is a what the teaching-facilitating is all about. Thought of spending time on 2 things that happens before pedagogy, viz what students bring and what teachers offer. Student-participant’s mind is ‘not empty vessel that needs to be filled’. Their preconcepts are valuable and offer the teacher a chance to design, fine-tune and individualize learning experiences. Leo Leonni’s 1974 classic, Fish is Fish charmingly captures that.
Teacher-facilitator, because of her passion for subject and the single-minded dedication towards it, unwittingly harms the student-participant! The workshop participants were made to go through all the ‘word crimes’ teacher commit. Sample the words like ‘set’, ‘cell’, ‘light’, ‘inert’, ‘mean’, ‘by’ – the mean different things in allied subjects. Originally from Renee Schwartz’s paper ‘What is in a Word’, in this activity it is extrapolated across subjects and participant response in the exit slip tell that we made them crime detectors inside the classroom, crime of the textual kind!
Agreed that the session on students’ preconcepts and teachers’ ‘word crimes’ do not necessarily a pedagogy make. Original exhaustive plan was to take an LO and weave it around different pedagogic flavours. Given the 10 to 3 schedule, retrospectively I still defend this Faustian bargain, for, somebody has to speak about participants’ sensitization towards students’ speed-breakers. This session extracted its space to come in the open.
The next session was on giving them the taste of (one of many) conceptual similarity in the pedagogy of math, science and social science. The ideas of fairness, bias, accuracy, measurement, reportage were explored through Cliff Stoll’s imperfecto ruler activity, which otherwise appears like out and out a math activity. I should have summarized it better keeping the larger interdisciplinary picture in mind. Time constraints stopped me from talking about one of the most exciting and under-reported theme across pedagogy of all three disciplines, the idea of ‘visualization’- visualizing numbers, shapes, space, time and events. Some other time, I hope.
Setting the stage for final day on assessment, the last activity for the day was to look at a subject specific LO with a pedagogic process in mind that has an assessment strand embedded in it. Teams’ could have sprinkled their presentations with richer understanding of the days gone by. That is an acknowledged failure for me.
Day 5: Purpose, Principles and Process of Assessment
In order to attain the learning outcomes, which are assessment standards, it is imperative that the participants understand the need for linking the learning outcomes and the pedagogical processes with assessment. This day’s session was focused on important questions related to assessment ‘What to assess?’, ‘How to assess?’, ‘Why to assess?with a greater emphasis on ‘When to assess?’ question. Lorna’s paper on ‘Assessment of, for and as learning’ was given to participants for reading. Reading helped in a focused discussion on the pros and cons of each type of assessment. Pause was given after each subsection of the paper. The challenges of assessment of learning that is accuracy, fairness and interrater and intrarater reliability was discussed. A few effective ways of doing assessment for learning that is discussion, feedback, response analysis and questioning was described. Though the paradigm shift of assessment was discussed, we could not do justice to Assessment as learning again due to shortage of time. Day wise exit slips helped in gathering participants questions for first four days, this was not possible on the fifth day due to time constraint. A brief discussion on how the learnings from this workshop can be used by the participants at their work places and in the field was conducted by one of the facilitator. It is essential that the understanding about learning outcomes be shared by the participants with respective DIET and SCERT members.
Overall, it was a vibrant, interactive and engaging group of around 50 participants, our first, with such a large number. Many of them have it in them to take it to their individual DIETs with a very minor scaffolding.
- NCERT, (2005) National Curriculum for Framework 2005 (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training); (referred as NCF2005)
- NCERT, (2006) Position Paper on Curriculum, Syllabus and Textbooks (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
- NCERT, (2006) Position Paper on Teaching of Mathematics (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
- NCERT, (2006) Position Paper on Teaching of Science (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
- NCERT, (2006) Position Paper on Teaching of English (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
- NCERT, (2006) Position Paper on Teaching of Social Science (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
- Dhankar, R. From classroom to aims: Mapping the field of curriculum
- NCERT, (2016) Learning outcomes at elementary stage (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training)
- Biggs, John. “Constructive alignment in university teaching.” HERDSA Review of higher education 1.1 (2014): 5-22.
- Sharma, K, (2015) Learning outcomes and learning indicators: shift in Indian elementary education (The Online Journal of New Horizons in Education)
- Writing learning outcomes, British Columbia Institute of Technology, 2010
- Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, Bloom, (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, abridged edition. White Plains, NY: Longman.
- Earl, Lorna (2003) Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximise Student Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.
- State wise NAS reports – http://www.ncert.nic.in/programmes/NAS/SRC.html
- NCERT, (2005) National Curriculum Framework (New Delhi: National Council of Educational Research and Training) – Section 3.11 on Assessment from Page no 71 – 77 of NCF 2005
- What didn’t you understand – https://youtu.be/IsaCk4SARPk
- Fish is fish – https://youtu.be/bE1qxEGjNRU
- The first well – https://youtu.be/4Ql7wHgsjSs
- What is in a word? https://undsci.berkeley.edu/teaching/schwartz_reprint.pdf
- Powers of 10 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww4gYNrOkkg
- Triple Loop Learning – http://cogprints.org/6161/1/pesc07_Peschl_Triple_Loop_Learning_Individual_Cultivation_Innovation.pdf