Module 2: Planning for Outcomes

Developing Learning Outcomes:

Writing Your Syllabus


The final step in planning your course, once you have written your outcomes, created assessment tasks, and planned learning experiences, is to write the course syllabus.

Syllabi typically fall into one of three frameworks: content-focused, competency-focused, and outcomes-focused.

A content-focused syllabus focuses primarily on what content the instructor will cover in the course. It highlights topics, assignments, and readings.

A competency-focused syllabus focuses on what competencies students should demonstrate in the course. These competencies are usually converted to a grade.

An outcomes-focused syllabus focuses on what the students should be able to do upon completion of the course. It explains the themes, concepts, and issues students need to understand, and what skills they will have upon completion.

Many faculty think of a syllabus as a table of contents for the course and follow the content-focused model. When writing your syllabus, we encourage you to use the outcomes-focused model, which tells the students exactly what is expected of them and what they will be able to do when the course is over.

Below are examples of a content-focused syllabus and an outcomes-focused syllabus. Look at the documents and compare their components. Imagine that you are a student receiving these documents on the first day of class. How would the information in the syllabus guide your thinking and understanding of what would happen in the class?

Compare the full version of the content-focused syllabus (an Adobe PDF document, 136k) to the full version of the outcomes-focused syllabus (an Adobe PDF document, 188k).