Measuring learning outcomes gaining support

February 6, 2013

A rising number of universities are adopting student learning outcomes as a means of ensuring degree quality, as well as helping students transition between institutions within Canada and abroad. It is not an entirely new concept -- learning outcomes and competencies are common in professional programs like business and medicine, often to meet accreditation standards. But now universities are moving toward campus-wide learning outcomes. For example, the University of Guelph recently adopted 5 learning outcomes for all its degree programs. Other institutions, following in the footsteps of their global peers, are also contemplating adopting learning outcomes, but the trend has not been universally accepted. Some professors vigorously oppose learning outcomes, arguing that they infringe on their academic freedom and autonomy over how courses should be designed and delivered. Some consider the trend as the creep of corporate sector quality-assurance methods in education, threatening to diminish universities to little more than training institutions. University Affairs