Changing Focus in Education: Student-Centred vs. Tutor-Centred

• Traditionally study-units & programmes were designed starting from content

• After deciding on the content, teachers planned how it was to be taught and then assessed it

• This approach, focusing on the teacher’s input, is called the teacher-centred approach

• Using this approach, it is not always easy to identify precisely what the student must be able to do in order to pass the study-unit or programme

• At universities, there is now a shift from teacher-centred to student-centred teaching approaches

• The current focus is on what students are expected to be able to do at the end of a study-unit or programme

What are learning outcomes?

Learning outcomes are statements of what a student should know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of a process of learning.

The learning activity could be, for example, a lecture, a module or an entire programme.

Learning outcomes must not simply be a “wish list” of what a student is capable of doing on completion of the learning activity.

Learning outcomes must be simply and clearly described.

Learning outcomes must be capable of being validly assessed.

Aims and Objectives

The Aim of a module or programme is a broad general statement of teaching intention, i.e. it indicates what the teacher intends to cover.

Example of aim: To give students an introduction to organic chemistry

The objective of a module or programme is a specific statement of teaching intention, i.e. it indicates one of the specific areas that the teacher intends to cover.

Examples of objectives:

1. Give students an appreciation of the unique nature of carbon and it ability to bond to other carbon atoms.

2. To give students an understanding of the concept of hybridisation.

3. To ensure that students know some characteristic properties of alkanes and alcohols.

4. To make students familiar with a range of families of organic compounds: alkanes, alcohols, carboxylic acids and esters.

From the definition of Learning Outcome we see:

Emphasis on the learner.

Emphasis on the learner’s ability to do something.

How do I write Learning Outcomes?

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

  • Bloom’s taxonomy (1956) is a very useful aid to writing learning outcomes.
  • The taxonomy consists of a hierarchy of increasingly complex processes which we want our students to acquire.
  • Provides the structure for writing learning outcomes
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy is frequently used by teachers in writing learning outcomes as it provides a ready made structure and list of verbs.

Bloom (1956) proposed that knowing is composed of six successive levels arranged in a hierarchy.

  • This area is commonly called the cognitive (“knowing” or “thinking”) domain (involving thought processes).
  • Bloom suggested certain verbs that characterise the ability to demonstrate these processes.
  • These verbs are the key to writing learning outcomes.
  • The list of verbs has been extended since his original publication.
  • The “toolkit” for writing learning outcomes!

1. Knowledge – ability to recall or remember facts without necessarily understanding them

Use action verbs like:

Arrange, collect, define, describe, duplicate, enumerate, examine, find, identify, label, list, memorise, name, order, outline, present, quote, recall, recognise, recollect,  record, recount, relate, repeat, reproduce, show, state, tabulate, tell.

Examples: Knowledge


Recall genetics terminology: homozygous, heterozygous, phenotype, genotype, homologous chromosome pair, etc.

Identify and consider ethical implications of scientific investigations.

Describe how and why laws change and the consequences of such changes on society.

List the criteria to be taken into account when caring for a patient with  tuberculosis.

Define what behaviours constitute unprofessional practice in the solicitor – client relationship.

Outline the history of the Celtic peoples from the earliest evidence to the insular migrations.

Describe the processes used in engineering when preparing a design brief for a client.

Recall the axioms and laws of Boolean algebra.

2. Comprehension – ability to understand and interpret learned information

Use action verbs like:

Associate, change, clarify, classify, construct, contrast, convert, decode, defend, describe, differentiate, discriminate, discuss, distinguish, estimate, explain, express, extend, generalise, identify, illustrate, indicate, infer, interpret, locate, predict, recognise, report, restate, review, select, solve, translate.

Examples: Comprehension


Differentiate between civil and criminal law

Identify participants and goals in the development of electronic commerce.

Discuss critically German literary texts and films in English.

Predict the genotype of cells that undergo meiosis and mitosis.

Translate short passages of contemporary Italian.

Convert number systems from hexadecimal to binary and vice versa.

Explain the social, economic and political effects of World War I on the post-war world.

Classify reactions as exothermic and endothermic.

Recognise the forces discouraging the growth of the educational system in Ireland in the 19th  century.

Explain the impact of Greek and Roman culture on Western civilisation.

Recognise familiar words and basic phrases concerning themselves….when people speak slowly and clearly.

3. Application: ability to use learned material in new situations, e.g. put ideas and concepts to work in solving problems

Use action verbs like:

Apply, assess, calculate, change, choose, complete, compute, construct, demonstrate, develop, discover, dramatise, employ, examine, experiment, find, illustrate, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, organise, practice, predict, prepare, produce, relate, schedule, select, show, sketch, solve, transfer, use.

Examples application

Construct a timeline of significant events in the history of Australia in the 19th century.

Apply knowledge of infection control in the maintenance of patient care facilities.

Select and employ sophisticated techniques for analysing the efficiencies of energy usage in complex industrial processes.

Show proficiency in the use of vocabulary and grammar, as well as the sounds of the language in different styles…..

Relate energy changes to bond breaking and formation.

Modify guidelines in a case study of a small manufacturing firm to enable tighter quality control of production.

Show how changes in the criminal law affected levels of incarceration in Scotland in the 19th century.

Apply principles of evidence-based medicine to determine clinical diagnoses.

4. Analysis: ability to break down information into its components, e.g.  look for inter-relationships and ideas (understanding of organisational structure)

Use action verbs like:

Analyse, appraise, arrange, break down, calculate, categorise, classify, compare, connect, contrast, criticise, debate, deduce, determine, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, divide, examine, experiment, identify, illustrate, infer, inspect, investigate, order, outline, point out, question, relate, separate, sub-divide, test.

Examples: Analysis

Analyse why society criminalises certain behaviours.

Compare and contrast the different electronic business models.

Categorise the different areas of specialised interest within dentistry.

Debate the economic and environmental effects of energy conversion processes.

Identify and quantify sources of errors in measurements.

Calculate gradient from maps in m, km, % and ratio.

Critically analyse a broad range of texts of different genres and from different time periods.

Compare the classroom practice of a newly qualified teacher with that of a teacher of 20 years teaching experience.

Calculate logical functions for coders, decoders and multiplexers.

5. Synthesis – ability to put parts together

Use action verbs like:

Argue, arrange, assemble, categorise, collect, combine, compile, compose, construct, create, design, develop, devise, establish, explain, formulate, generalise, generate, integrate, invent, make, manage, modify, organise, originate, plan, prepare, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, reorganise, revise, rewrite, set up, summarise.

Examples:  Synthesis

Recognise and formulate problems that are amenable to energy management solutions.

Propose solutions to complex energy management problems both verbally and in writing.

Assemble sequences of high-level evaluations in the form of a program.

Integrate concepts of genetic processes in plants and animals.

Summarise the causes and effects of the 1917 Russian revolutions.

Relate the sign of enthalpy changes to exothermic and endothermic reactions.

Organise a patient education programme.

6. Evaluation: Ability to judge value of material for a given purpose

Use action verbs like:

Appraise, ascertain, argue, assess, attach, choose, compare, conclude, contrast, convince, criticise, decide, defend, discriminate, explain, evaluate, interpret, judge, justify, measure, predict, rate, recommend, relate, resolve, revise, score, summarise, support, validate, value.

Examples: Evaluation

Assess the importance of key participants in bringing about change in Irish history

Evaluate marketing strategies for different electronic business models.

Appraise the role of sport and physical education in health promotion for young people.

redict the effect of change in temperature on the position of equilibrium…

Summarise the main contributions of Michael Faraday to the field of electromagnetic induction.

Bloom (1956)

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

Anderson and Krathwohl (2001)

  1. To remember
  2. To understand
  3. To apply
  4. To analyse
  5. To evaluate
  6. To create

AFFECTIVE DOMAIN (“Feeling”) concerned with value issues : involves attitudes.

Active verbs for affective domain

Appreciate, accept, assist, attempt, challenge, combine, complete, defend, demonstrate (a belief in), discuss,  dispute, embrace, follow, hold, integrate, order, organise, join, share, judge, praise, question, relate, share, support, synthesise, value.

Examples of Learning Outcomes in Affective Domain

Accept the need for professional ethical standards.

Appreciate the need for confidentiality in the professional client relationship.

Display a willingness to communicate well with patients.

Relate to participants in an ethical and humane manner.

Resolve conflicting issues between personal beliefs and ethical considerations.

Embrace a responsibility for the welfare of children taken into care.

Participate in class discussions with colleagues and with teachers.


Work never completed by Bloom.

Involves co-ordination of brain and muscular activity. Active verbs for this domain: bend, grasp, handle, operate, perform, reach, relax, shorten, stretch, differentiate (by touch), perform (skilfully).

Laboratory skills

Operate the range of instrumentation specified in the module safely and efficiently in the chemistry laboratory.

Perform titrations accurately and safely in the laboratory.

Construct simple scientific sketches of geological features in the field. 

Clinical Skills

The student is able to perform a comprehensive history and physical examination of patients in the outpatient setting and the general medical wards, excluding critical care settings.

The student is competent in performing venipuncture and basic CPR.

Presentation skills

Deliver an effective presentation.

Demonstrate a range of graphic and CAD communication techniques.

Perform basic voice and movement tasks (theatre studies).