Student learning goals and outcomes have been established by Goucher College to articulate answers to the following questions:
- What do we want students to know by the time they finish a course or a major?
- What do we want students to be able to do with what they know?
The identification and refinement of student learning outcomes is a part of a cyclical process to improve both teaching and learning. The instructional cycle is a process that most effectively occurs at the departmental level in the hands of the faculty who understand the practices, conventions, and methods that their disciplines convey to majors.
Faculty members have designed learning outcomes for their departments/programs by discussing what they believe is essential to student learning in their disciplines. Usually those discussions are rooted in the skills and knowledge that faculty members teach in their own courses, as well as in the accepted practices of their academic disciplines. Once faculty members have agreed on departmental/program goals for student learning, they can use them as guides for articulating new or revised learning goals for their own courses. Student learning goals represent the structure and character of the particular discipline in which they are situated and the collective wisdom of the faculty.