Outcomes-Based Education

An educational model where the educators first identify the desired end results, then identify and develop the means to achieve those results. This means that faculty members publicly articulate learning outcomes and assessment criteria in advance of instruction. They also focus curriculum and instruction on the agreed-upon student learning outcomes. Student progress and completion of courses and programs of study are determined by proficiency in the articulated outcomes.

Grounding curriculum and instruction on an outcomes-based education model has the power to:

  • Focus resources and instruction on common and cohesive student learning goals.
  • Institutionalize core academic values across the academic program.
  • Foster continuous attention on student learning.
  • Enhance institutional accountability.

Outside of the educational world, outcomes-based is the norm. Example: You first decide that you want to get to the store, then you determine whether you should walk, drive, or take the bus. Few just jump on the bus then later decide to have the ride result in getting off at the store. Overall, individuals make few decisions in life without some desired outcome in mind. While the action-first approach can result in great discovery and surprises, it hardly seems efficient for people who want to move forward in life. Unfortunately, education has often focused on specific actions that produce varied results, rather than specific results that can be reached through various actions. Most notably, most colleges require students to take specific courses as part of their program of study, but no one ensures that various sections of those courses taught by different professors result in students learning the same things. Passing the courses becomes the objective. CSUMB identifies the desired learning outcomes first, then adopts courses that will produce those outcomes. The university also provides mechanisms for getting appropriate credit if students have already achieved designated outcomes through prior learning experiences rather than requiring that they take specific courses.