What is OBE?

Outcomes‐based education is a learner‐centered approach to education that focuses on what a student should be able to do in the real world upon completion of their course or program.

Learning outcomes are complex statements of the primary skills, knowledge, attitudes, abilities and proficiencies the learner will “own” at the end of the course.

Designing Backwards

In OBE the curriculum is carefully constructed by first determining the outcomes, then designed backwards by:

  • carefully determining authentic assessments (how will we know?)
  • choosing/building relevant learning activities and experiences
  • selecting appropriate content           

The process ensures that the learners are able to demonstrate achievement of outcomes, and that learning outcomes, learning acitivities/methods and assessment are aligned.

OBE contrasts with traditional education, which primarily focuses on the resources (content) that are available to the student, which are called inputs. It uses methods which are learner-centered and that focus on authentically measuring student performance (the “outcome”). 

While outcomes represent the destination of the learner’s journey, the route, equipment, tools and methods of reaching the destination are flexible. This means instructors are still able to customize instructional methods and learning activities in a way that is responsive to the unique needs of their learners.

Levels of  Outcomes

outcomes image

Course learning outcomes represent the integrated skills, knowledge and attitudes a learner will “own” upon successful completion of their course.

Program Outcomes are broad statements that describe what graduates of a program will be able to “do out there” as a result of what they have learned in the program.

Inuit Qaujimaningit Outcomes reflect the thoughtful  integration of Inuit knowledge, culture, values and principles throughout the course or program.

College-wide outcomes are outcomes that are set across all programs by the institution. Some post-secondary institutions set college-wide outcomes based on the Conference Board of Canada’s Employability Skills 2000+. While Inuit Qaujimaningit outcomes are required in all courses and programs, Arctic College has not established college-wide outcomes.

Territorial/Provincial/Professional Outcomes reflect program and professional standards set nationally, provincially, territorially or by professional accrediting bodies.


Benefits of outcomes-based education

Many Universities and colleges across Canada agree that “learning outcomes provide a powerful framework upon which to structure curricula”

Learning outcomes:

  • Provide a strategic way to enhance the quality of teaching and learning;
  • Prepare students for the “rest‐of‐life” context in which they will need to apply what they have learned in their course/program;
  • provide a framework to align teaching, learning and assessment methods;
  • Promote a collaborative, collegial approach to curriculum planning;
  • Help to ensure the approval and accreditation of new and existing programs;
  • Provide a mechanism for ensuring accountability and quality assurance;
  • Promote a self‐directed and autonomous approach to learning;
  • Provide a means for students to articulate the knowledge, skills, attitudes and experience acquired during their program;
  • Provide a tool for monitoring, evaluating and improving the curriculum; and
  • Help to encourage continuity and mobility between varying post‐secondary programs and institutions.

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