Outcomes Based Education
The utilization of outcome based education is largely designed to show student progress based on the 'outcome' of learning skills. In a traditional education approach, student skill levels are determined by completing textbooks but the approach of outcome based education would rely solely on the individual contributions of a student and not on their comparative success to other students. The idea is to teach students material based on their grasp, where weaker students achieve success based on their skills while highly capable students are provided enrichment.
In an outcome based education setting, the curriculum is designed only with the learning outcomes defined for an educator but no further input is made on how these outcomes should be approached. The teacher is largely responsible for the overall lesson plans, engagement of the students and for providing the study skills necessary to correlate ideas.
Grading Systems When Utilizing Outcome Based Education
In traditional education grading with a normal distribution curve, only a few students will do well, some will always fail and the rest will lie in between. The system automatically designates that half the students did not do better than average. These assumptions have no regard for what the student might have actually known or understood of the course material. A student could have comprehended and applied 80% of the concepts and still failed based on a normal distribution curve.
With outcome based education, grading is based on the ability of the student to meet the designated criteria set at the beginning of the course. For example, instead of passing a class based on having a cumulative grade above the 70% mark, a student would have a more direct set of criterion to achieve such as demonstrating the ability to complete multiplication tables from one through twelve. The idea isn't that a person did well on a set of worksheets or a single exam, but that they adequately met the criteria.
Arguments For and Against Outcome Based Education
Supporters of outcome based education believe that students genuinely benefit from operating more independently based on their individual study skills. It is also cited that the focus on outcome based education reduces the differentials noted with traditional standardized testing. Students being measured equally with a standardized test often have their socio-economic status ignored and consequently it is not encompassed in the testing results.
Some of the difficulties surround outcome based education include the time and expense of individualized lesson plans based on class sizes. Managing the range of work can be overwhelming for teachers. Parents are also often concerned that the criterion is set too low or too high and the student will have difficulty arriving at a sound foundation. In contrast, others believe that by employing more individualized learning, the student will benefit directly based on their skill level and will not feel confined by traditional parameters such as textbook material.
The Benefits of Outcome Based Education
Outcome based education is a method that is graded on very direct curriculum criteria. Teacher resources are limited to what their school districts provide, but the overall make up of the class design allows an educator to gauge their lesson plans based on the student skills presently in the class. Teacher worksheets to help guide the daily activities can help coursework to remain on task and focused towards the pre-defined curriculum. Overall, outcome based education is student focused and largely based on direct correlations between skills and demonstrated understanding of the topic.