Outcomes-based approach to quality assessment and curriculum improvement in higher education

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Abstract

Purpose: This paper was written for practitioners in higher education, including academics and instructional designers who are engaged in curriculum revision. It aims to examine the notion of outcomes-based education, survey the literature and provide a critical review of the outcomes-based approach to quality assessment and curriculum improvement in higher education. The outcomes-based approach is completely student-centred, which focuses on what students know and can actually do. Sharpening the focus onto student learning outcomes goes beyond mere tinkering with traditional structures and methods; it really constitutes a paradigm shift in educational philosophy and practice. Design/methodology/approach: This paper begins with a summary of developments in institutional quality assessment and curriculum improvement in higher education in recent decades. Then, it identifies the underlying concepts and principles that characterize the outcomes-based approach for the design and improvement of curriculum and instruction in higher education. Finally, the outcomes-based approach is critically reviewed for its value from the perspectives of both practical and philosophical considerations. Findings: In so doing, it is directed to the heightening of sensitivity as to the manner and situations in which the outcomes-based approach may be employed. Originality/value: A final note is that while learning outcomes approaches are useful, care is needed to take into account the different views and perceptions of those involved in defining learning outcomes and to keep the ultimate goal of improving student learning clearly in mind. Care must also be taken to avoid rigidity and conceptual reification during implementation in curriculum and instructional design. Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-168
JournalQuality Assurance in Education
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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curriculum
education
learning
student
curriculum revision
reification
rigidity
Values
paradigm
instruction
methodology

Citation

Tam, M. (2014). Outcomes-based approach to quality assessment and curriculum improvement in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 22(2), 158-168.

Keywords

  • Quality improvement
  • Assessment
  • Learning
  • Quality assurance
  • Teaching
  • Curriculum development
  • Higher education
  • Quality assessment
  • Outcomes-based
  • Learning process
  • Curriculum improvement