Toolkit for Planning Education Events
Step 2: Use an Outcomes-based Design

Step 2: Use an Outcomes-based Design

A key difference in an outcomes-based approach to session design versus the more traditional content-based approach is that planning starts by asking what learners are going to do differently on the job as a result of taking the training, rather than jumping straight to content or an idea for a speaker.

  • This “outcome” is what a learner changes in their work; it connects what they “know” from the training or education with the “know-how” applied back on the job2.
  • Having clear outcomes also aids in evaluating the training, as you can follow up with participants at different time-points after the training to see if the outcomes were achieved.

Writing the Learning Outcomes

To write a learning outcome, simply fill in the blank of the following sentence: After this event/session/course, participants will be able to (action word and behaviour) back at work. Examples of action words and behaviours (something you can see or hear):

  • List the values associated with our strategic plan.
  • Work collaboratively to identify and address department budget constraints.
  • Design one course curriculum.

Designing the Session

Once the learning outcomes are set, you can design the rest of the training session, including how the outcomes will be assessed, what process skills are needed and what concepts/issues will achieve that. The chart below outlines questions that can help you “design back” your session from on-the-job outcomes through the assessment tasks, skills, concepts and issues that participants must proceed through in order to change their performance2.

Intended    ⇒
Outcomes
Assessment    ⇒
Tasks
Process     ⇒
Skills
Concepts
and Issues
What do learners need to be able to DO “in their work” that we’re responsible for addressing “in the PWS training session”?
For example, post-session performance.
What will learners do in the PWS training to demonstrate evidence of what they can do?
For example, in-session evidence of performance – assessment of tasks.
What skills must the learner master to demonstrate what they can do?
For example, specific acts, ability to do tasks – process skills.
What must the learner understand about PWS to demonstrate what they can do?
For example, specific facts, patterns, values, motivations – concepts and issues.

Below is an example of learning outcomes for a session on Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is provided. Prader-Willi syndrome is a complex genetic condition that affects many parts of the body.

PWS Intended    ⇒
Outcomes
PWS Assessment    ⇒
Tasks
PWS Process    ⇒
Skills
PWS Concepts
and Issues
What do learners need to be able to DO “in their work” that we’re responsible for addressing “in the PWS training session”?
For example, post-session performance.
What will learners do in the PWS training to demonstrate evidence of what they can do?
For example, in-session evidence of performance – assessment of tasks.
What skills must the learner master to demonstrate what they can do?
For example, specific acts, ability to do tasks – process skills.
What must the learner understand about PWS to demonstrate what they can do?
For example, specific facts, patterns, values, motivations – concepts and issues.

1. Identify the unique characteristics of PWS Answer test questions
  • Discuss how the characteristics of PWS differ from those of other developmental disabilities
  • Characteristics of PWS
2. Describe the behavioural management strategies that would best support a person with PWS Complete a case study
  • Identify the specific behavioural issues and recommend interventions
  • Collect data to monitor behavioural issues
  • Unique philosophy around supporting individual with PWS
  • Strategies to assist the person to manage their food intake
3. Identify the health concerns of people with PWS Complete a case study
  • Identify key factors to look for when assessing a person with PWS to identify health concerns
  • List the common health concerns of a person with PWS and how they present
4. Communicate information about the primary health concerns of a person with PWS to family members Participate in a role-play
  • Demonstrate specific techniques for relaying health concerns to family members in a clear and compassionate manner
  • Understanding the issues/concerns that families have
  • Techniques for effective communication with families

Template: Use an Outcomes-Based Design