Disclosure of Learning Outcomes in Course Syllabi

When it comes to providing students with reliable information and satisfying accreditation requirements, course syllabi are among the most versatile documents. For example, course syllabi can provide evidence that an institution is in compliance with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s Standards 6 (integrity), 7 (institutional assessment), 11 (educational offerings), 12 (general education), 13 (related educational activities), and 14 (assessment of student learning).

Course syllabi are especially valuable when it comes to the assessment of student learning. Assessment of student learning remains one of MSCHE’s most-scrutinized areas in both the Decennial Reviews and Periodic Review Reports. During the last three years, Standard 14 was cited in 62% of requests for follow-up reports to an institution’s Self-Study Report (Decennial Review). It was also cited in 53% of follow-up requests related to an institution’s Periodic Review Report.

Typically, syllabi emphasize course learning goals and objectives. Those course goals and objectives should be aligned with a department’s or program’s learning goals and objectives. In addition, each course makes a contribution toward addressing some of the larger learning goals and objectives related to higher education.

During the upcoming semester, I will be teaching BBA 407: Strategic Management. To strengthen the value of the course syllabus, I will go beyond the minimum disclosure of course learning goals and objectives. Instead, I will relate those goals and objectives to the departmental learning goals. I will also provide information related to the course’s contribution toward broader higher education-related learning goals. With respect to those broader goals, I will reference the Essential Learning Outcomes from the Association of American Colleges and Universities Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative and the Lumina Foundation’s Degree Qualifications Profile.

Below are the relevant charts that can be used as a model for other course syllabi:

In the end, the added detail related to learning outcomes can enhance the overall assessment of student learning. It offers a greater degree of specificity. It also offers a larger context for the course.

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