Planning approaches

When you start planning your curriculum, you need to consider the building blocks:

  • Intended Learning Outcomes of the programme
  • Modules to be studied and their Intended Learning Outcomes
  • Learning and teaching activities - what are the taught elements? are these done face-to-face, online, independent study. What other activities do you want your learners to engage in?
  • Assessment - summative or formative? How and when are you going to assess?

Programme Intended Learning Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) define what a learner will have acquired and will be able to do upon successfully completing their studies. ILOs are expressed from the students’ perspective and are measurable, achievable and assessible.

ILOs underpin every programme and module by allowing learners to see what they are aiming for, and how assessment will be part of their learning. So it is important that programme and module ILOs are expressed clearly and in such a way that they can be assessed.

More detailed help with writing ILOs.

For undergraduate courses you should write ILOs for each year of the course, so that students can see how they will progress, as well as overall ILOs for the course as a whole. For postgraduate programmes you should write ILOs for the the whole programme.

Module Intended Learning Outcomes

Once you have decided on the overall ILOs of a course, you then need to think about which modules can be built together to achieve these outcomes. Module ILOs will be more specific and will show students what they will be able to do at the end of each module.

From 2017/18 all modules should be either 15 or 30 credits, and must have 10 hours of work per credit. So a 15 credit module will require 150 hours of work for the student to achieve the learning outcomes. This work can be in various different forms, as explained in the learning and teaching activities section below.

Learning and teaching activities

Think about what activities you would like your learners to engage in, and which of these will be taught elements, and which will be done independently. Here are some examples of taught methods (taken from The Quality Assurance Agency Explaining Contact Hours guide (2011))

  • Lecture
  • Seminar
  • Tutorial
  • Project supervision
  • Demonstration
  • Practical classes and workshops
  • Supervised time in studio/workshop
  • Fieldwork
  • External visits

It is also important to help students to learn independently. If coming straight from secondary school or college, many students may find independent learning unfamiliar, so it is important to explain what is meant by the different kind of independent learning and to make sure a support mechanism is in place so that students aren’t working in isolation. Independent learning activities you may consider:

  • Work-based learning
  • Independent learning
  • Research-led learning
  • Reflective learning
  • Assessment

Assessment and feedback are not simply methods of grading, judging and reporting on student performance. When designed effectively, they can engage students and facilitate learning, provide the opportunity to develop skills and help students to reflect on, improve or build confidence in their academic ability.

Think about the timing and the type of assessment, for example whether it is summative or formative, to help fully embed the assessment into the learning, rather than adding it on at the end. Each individual assessment should be aligned to one or more of the intended learning outcomes for the module.

Full help with assessment and feedback.

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