Outcome-Based Learning (OBL) describes an educational model which assumes that a predetermined outcome should guide the entire learning process. According to Spady (1994), OBL means focusing and organising the whole learning process around clearly defined outcomes that need to be demonstrated by students at the end of the learning experience. Most preciously, OBL is a non-prescriptive learning philosophy aimed at developing employable citizens who can add competitive value to society in different work settings. OBL focuses on all elements of the learning process and around what is essential for learners to successfully do at the end of the learning experiences. Well-articulated learning outcomes aligned with appropriate teaching and evaluation methods are the primary requirement of an effective OBL plan. Further, establishing conditions and opportunities within the learning process that encourage learners to achieve higher learning outcomes is also recognised as an essential part of the OBL plan.
In OBL, what students are expected to learn and achieve during the learning journey is specified. The learning outcome of the OBL plan needs to focus on developing Technical Competencies (TC) as well as Career Readiness Competencies (CRC) as students who are competent in CRCs, i.e., accurately accessing information, ability to deal with different work settings, developing progressive relationships, ability to lead and communicate effectively, would gain distinctive advantages than those who possess only TCs. Moreover, organisations are no longer interested in attracting individuals based on their level of knowledge possession. Instead, they are concerned with individuals who can acquire knowledge promptly, can reproduce knowledge to address organisation-specific challenges, and can apply knowledge in different contexts to ensure strategic advantages. Therefore, it is a fundamental aspect of OBL programmes that develops and assesses both TCs and CRCs during and at the end of the learning experience.
Once the education programmes are defined based on outcomes, assessment methods cannot be found on the traditional syllabus or programme-based systems. Therefore, greater attention and investment need to be given to assessing the outcome. This aspect is particularly important because OBL does not assume that the course duration is sufficient in estimating the effectiveness of the education programme. Evidence to reflect the possession of competency needs to be gathered from multiple sources. All evidence must be assessed against standards derived from the definition of the competencies and the overall mission of the learning programme.
Accordingly, this manuscript is developed as a guideline for Consultants and resource persons of NIBM to design and implement effective evaluation models for the educational programmes and thereby ensure the quality and uniformity of the OBL assessment process.
Outcome-Based Learning assessment is a learner-oriented process of collecting evidence to reflect the effectiveness of the learning process in terms of predetermined competencies. Teaching and assessment are considered mutually inclusive learning elements in this process, and assessment-based feedback reinforces teaching and learning efficacy. The assessment process encourages the learner to earn better grades through continuous feedback and evidence-based coaching.
PRINCIPLES OF ASSESSMENT
The following 12 principles guide the entire assessment process of OBL.
- Learning is recognised as a journey that leads to change, which occurs due to repeated experience, and one that increases the potential for improved performance and further learning. The change in the learner may happen at the levels of knowledge, attitude, values, and/or behavior. As a result of the learning, learners perceive concepts, ideas, models, and finally, the world differently.
- Learning can be expressed as a demonstrable outcome in changing; cognitive ability, behavior, attitude, skills, trait, perception, or expertise that the learner acquires during and at the end of the learning journey.
- Assessments are designed to reflect learners’ achievements of the predetermined learning outcomes and the effectiveness of the learning process.
- No single assessment method can reflect the achievement of the whole learning outcome. Thus, multiple assessments need to be included.
- Diversity of assessment methods needs to be enhanced in line with learners’ different learning styles and maximum opportunity should be provided for learners to demonstrate their competency achievements.
- Reflection of the comprehensive assessment plan of the respective module is more than the total of each attachment method. Each assessment method should be chosen based on its strengths and weakness, and all assessment decisions should be based on rational logic or scientific underpinning.
- Reliability of assessment plan: learner’s reproducibility of the same performance status during the learning journey needs to be established by introducing parallel assessment methods.
- Validity of assessment: the extent to which type of competency the assessment claims to assess needs to be established by defining the purpose of the respective assessment method.
- Before undertaking any assessment, the learner must be fully aware of the learning outcomes, assessment plan, assessment methods, and assessment criteria.
- The entire assessment plan should be transparent and unambiguous. Precise information on the policies and processes relating to the assessment will be readily available to all involved in the assessment process.
- The assessment plan of the respective module needs to include both formative and summative assessment approaches.
- Learners experiencing difficulties in learning such as reading comprehension problems, an inability to remember written or spoken words, hearing or speech tests, and problems with hand-eye coordination need to be identified initially and should be given special attention and assignments to improve such conditions.
- Continuous feedback based on assessment results/observations needs to be given to reflect learning gaps and achieve higher learning status. Learners’ feedback on assessment and assessment results need to be utilised to improve the quality of teaching, learning environment, and learner engagement.