FLO Friday: Designing for Authenticity — Aligning Assessment with Intended Learning Outcomes

*Note: This session has passed. Please view the recordings and resources below. 

This session will highlight different aspects of aligning course components with intended learning outcomes for clarity and transparency. Specifically, we will dive into discussions of creating strong intended learning outcomes and linking them to authentic assessments that support all students. This FLO Friday workshop will highlight the foundational role intended learning outcomes play in course design, the significance of checking for alignment between assessments and outcomes, and the importance of connecting with colleagues in small-group activities to apply alignment practice. Although not required, it may be helpful to have some intended learning outcomes and assessments for courses in mind in preparation for this session.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • When presented with a complete intended learning outcome statement, you will correctly identify all three defining components.
  • You will carefully reflect on how to create an authentic assessment that links to your intended learning outcomes following brainstorming in small groups.
  • Through a small group activity, you will identify approaches to assessment that are relevant to your teaching and an authentic assessment framework.

Your FLO facilitator is Gerry Gourlay. Gerry Gourlay (she/her) gratefully acknowledges the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples as the land and place where she currently lives and works. Gerry is the teaching assistant (TA) coordinator in the division of Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation at the University of Victoria. In this role she mentors over 800 TAs each term through TA-specific programming and professional development initiatives to ensure they support undergraduate learning. Part of Gerry’s portfolio includes supporting faculty and instructors with course design, crafting intended learning outcomes, and supporting alignment among course components. Gerry is an instructional skills workshop facilitator and trainer, and she holds a PhD in biology and a graduate certificate for learning and teaching in higher education (UVic). She enjoys supporting faculty and instructors in finding innovative ways to support student learning, reduce barriers to learning for all students, and make the implicit more explicit in learning.

Session recap:

Whether you are heading back to a virtual or campus classroom this fall, it is important to take a moment to consider what students will learn from your course. What skills or knowledge do you want your students to gain during this course, and how do you make sure they get there?  Dr. Gerry Gourlay, from the University of Victoria, lead us in a 1-hour FLO Friday session on Designing for Authenticity – Aligning Assessment with Intended Learning Outcomes to set educators up for a successful semester.

When you think about Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), the question to answer is: What is the underlying goal you want your students to take away after doing the reading, activity, etc. Dr. Gourlay built upon Mager’s (1962) instructional objectives to explain the three components that makes up an ILO:

  1. The learning activity – what the learner does;
  2. The conditions – when and where the learner does it;
  3. The criteria – how much or how well the learner does it

Ultimately, writing an ILO is putting together who (the learner) will do what under what conditions and how well (or how much you know they have learned).  The ILOs are statements of what the learner takes away or engages with following a learning experience and could also be used as a self-assessment strategy to determine the Achieved Learning Outcomes (ALO).

Here is an example of an ILOs that was created for this FLO session:

When presented with a complete intended learning outcome statement, you will correctly identify all three defining components.

ILOs also provide a framework for an instructor to select the instructional strategies, including activities and assignments, that will best create an environment which allows the learner to achieve these outcomes. Dr. Gourlay gave an overview of Gulikers et al. (2004) Authentic Assessment Framework to establish the importance of alignment between ILOs and assessment.  To attain an aligned curriculum, Dr. Gourlay suggested using backwards design: start with your outcomes.  Your learning intentions or goals (ILO) informs your assessment which informs the instructional strategies you’ll use.

If you would like to explore this topic further, you can access the resources below for this session: