Intended outcomes

Each educational design process starts with the intended outcomes.

When it comes to the intended outcomes of online programs, there are four components to consider:

1. Cognitive outcomes: When it comes to formulating cognitive outcomes for a program, the ones related to gaining knowledge and understanding often come to mind first, but there is more. A distinction can be made between three different types of cognitive outcomes, that all need a different approach to be developed. The three types of cognitive outcomes are:

  1. Declarative knowledge, such as theories, models, and rules.
  2. Procedural skills, such as stating a hypothesis or countering arguments.
  3. Problem solving and strategies for future learning, such as deductive reasoning.

Make sure to consider all three types when you are formulating the outcomes for your program. You can use the verbs from Bloom’s taxonomy below to create the cognitive outcomes for your program.

2. Student engagement: Student engagement can be facilitated through the design. As in online situations, affective responses - related to social and emotional involvement - make an essential contribution to achieving the learning objectives of the program, it is key to formulate your intended outcomes for student engagement before you start designing. You can consider engagement at 3 levels: student-to-content, student-to-teacher, and student-to-student.

3. Productivity: From an administrative perspective, outcomes that measure productivity are highly valued. These outcomes are often easy to measure and report, such as the course pass rate, the average time spent on the course or the number of students that attended. By including these in your plan, you make sure they are not forgotten.

4. Learning to learn: As we know, academic education also includes the development of professional skills. When learning online, there are two outcomes for participants that relate to the ability to learn:

  1. Self-regulation: “the ability to plan and execute learning activities independently without needing someone else to tell you what to do and when to do it”.*
  2. Learning how to learn with the use of online programs and online communication channels.

Consider how you want to support these two outcomes during your course before you start developing.

* From: Learning Online: What Research Tells Us about Whether, When and How (New York: Routledge, 2014) by Barbara Means, Marianne Bakia en Robert Murphy