# Confusion - Learning objectives and learning outcomes

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by lancsHOD, Mar 18, 2012.

1. ### lancsHODNew commenter

Ok, I am going to be observed this week and I am trying to demonstrate good practice. So I have started to fill in the school's new lesson planning proforma.
I have filled in my Lesson objectives.
Pupils will be able to use accurate language to describe reflections, rotations and translations.
Pupils will be able to explain the effect on angles and lengths of repeated transformations.
Am I correct that these are Lesson objectives and what do I put for Learning Outcomes?
To me the learning outcomes are that the pupils can use accurate language and can explaing the effect????? But I am quite confused!

2. ### lancsHODNew commenter

Ok, I am going to be observed this week and I am trying to demonstrate good practice. So I have started to fill in the school's new lesson planning proforma.
I have filled in my Lesson objectives.
Pupils will be able to use accurate language to describe reflections, rotations and translations.
Pupils will be able to explain the effect on angles and lengths of repeated transformations.
Am I correct that these are Lesson objectives and what do I put for Learning Outcomes?
To me the learning outcomes are that the pupils can use accurate language and can explaing the effect????? But I am quite confused!

3. ### KarvolOccasional commenter

I would have the learning objectives as being what you expect them to be able to do, and the learning outcomes as to how you expect them to do.
Although, I have to admit, I could be completely wrong.

4. ### Nastyoldmrpike

I've never used lesson outcomes in my teaching life. Just use objectives, keep referring back to them. Have 3 15 minute activities that eplicitly meet each of these objectives. That's how I normally run it.

However I do change my objectives a little bit to yours.

Pupils should be able to reflect a shape in an horizontal or vertical mirror line (level 6ish)
Pupils should be able to reflect a shape in a diagonal line (level 7ish)
Pupils should be able to use the words mirror line and perpendicular bisector to describe reflections. (Level 7ish)

Also you could do the starter with names of lines, why are you doing so much in a lesson?
What year and level are most of these pupils?

Lesson outcome would be:
By the end of the lesson you should be able to accurately draw and describe any reflection with correct mathematical terminology. I guess.

5. ### TandyNew commenter

Hi Lancs
Although I think the whole malarkey of basing judgements about lessons on this sort of thing is utter tosh and nothing really to do with effective practice, I understand and appreciate the hoops you have to jump through and the needless stress it causes on the run up... so...
Lesson Objectives: These are statements of what you are about to teach.
They are written, however, from the point of view of what the students are about to learn (they assume that the learning will take place). So your wording is fine.
Lesson Outcomes: These are statements of what you would be able to assess at the end.
This is not to say that you are going to do so, but that is what the outcomes are. A practical way of achieving this in a maths lesson is to start out with a 'target question'. You can be explicit at the start that if the kids have got the lesson, then they'd be able to answer the target question(s). So for you example, you might have on a board somewhere in the room at all times a question about transformations that you would hope they could solve having experienced the teaching (the objectives). I have always found it nice to have several target questions on the various things being covered and allow the kids to answer whenever they like throughout the lesson, gives a nice feeling of challenge.

6. ### Nastyoldmrpike

That is a brilliant idea!

7. ### lancsHODNew commenter

Thanks Tandy, your first paragraph makes a lot of sense to me.
I am working on how to jump through 'the hoops' something that I haven't really done before but because of the circumstances the school is in at the moment it is something Ifeel I need to subscribeto during observation lessons.
I think I have always understood objectives in the way you've explained but outcomes are something that I have struggled with. Your explanations make it a lot clearer, Thank you.

8. ### salofi

Not sure if this helps, but in my maths lessons (in a Primary school) I have a learning objective on the board and then underneath it I have three learning outcomes which relate to the learning objective labelled as beginning, developing, mastering.
E.g. for a Year 4 class
Objective: To use a written method for addition
Beginning: I can use the expanded column method for addition (HTU)
Developing: I can use the standard algorithm for addition with integers.
Mastering: I can use the standard algorithm for addition with decimals.
At the end of the lesson, I can put these back on the board and the children assess themselves and write me a note about where they'd like to go next with this skill (e.g. I need more practice with the expanded method but I'd like to learn the standard algorithm soon).

Often the beginning, developing, mastering have more subtle differences than they do here but I thought this example would be clearer.

9. ### MasterMaths

As someone who has recently jumped through the 40-odd hoops to get QTS, I am firmly of the belief that Learning Objectives and Outcomes were developed, as concepts, for non-maths subjects and then we were forced to follow them.
It is easy to differentiate between them in, say, history where you can have "identify causes for the decline of the Roman Empire" as your objective and then "write a newspaper article from 500-AD showing the decline of the Empire" as the outcome (I think around 450-500AD is right?). In maths however, the outcome is, very often, just "being able to do the objective". When pushed I will give a specific "outcome", but more often than not an objective is plenty!

10. ### coyoteNew commenter

Not sure this is true. My understanding is that this developed from a very sensible idea from the whole "inside the black box" research. My source for this is "Mathematics inside the black box" by Jeremy Hodgen and Dylan William, 2006.
There they stated five very sensible principles of learning, based on research in actual maths, science and english classrooms. The fourth principle is "in order to learn, students must understand the learning intention". Subsequently, this has been (erroneously in my view) interpreted to mean that every lesson must have explicitly stated learning objectives that must be displayed on the board at the start of the lesson.
[Slightly OT, but it is a common misconception that AfL ideas aren't really appropriate in the mathematics classroom, whereas in fact much of the research that let do the AfL principles actually took place in maths classrooms.]
I'm not saying that LOs were invented after black box, just that they became accepted orthodoxy as a way of paying lip service to satisfying one of the AfL principles.

11. ### MasterMaths

I may not have expressed myself very clearly, coyote. To give an example, in my training year (last year) I had a learning objective of "use subsitution and knowledge of coordinates to draw the lines of linear equations" (or some such). My non-maths tutor then asked me what the outcome would be. I said that they will "be able to do the objective, ie they will be able to draw lines of linear equations".
This was not acceptable, I was told. The learning outcome can't simply be that they "can do" whatever the objective was. This is why I gave the example of the history lesson, and is why I think that Objectives and Outcomes - as two separate entities - were either developed, or given what you said about the Black Box research, have evolved (out of control?) away from the maths classroom.
I'm all in favour of objectives and I have clear ones for evey lesson (sometimes written on the board, sometimes not). Only very rarely are my "learnig outcomes" (or "lesson success criteria" as some people refer to them) particularly different to my objectives.
Hopefully that makes my earlier post a little clearer.

12. ### anon1021

How about linking it to some functional elements somewhere along the lines? They would give you clearer 'outcomes' in that they would be using and adapting the objectives to a real life outcome.
Or they could use and adapt their knowlegde and understanding to complete a particularly tricky GCSE style question?

13. ### coyoteNew commenter

As much as anything, this just seems to illustrate the dangers of having non-specialist observers (this happened to me a few years ago during an ofsted inspection).
It seems to me that the difference between learning objectives and outcomes, as described in this thread, is that an objective is about students understanding the learning intention, while the outcomes are about how the teacher assesses what the students have achieved during the lesson. This applies to any subject, but I wouldn't necessarily expect a non-specialist to understand how this is done in a maths classroom, and can easily imagine how they might have mistaken expectations.

14. ### peacocmaths

My take on this (and certainly no more relevant or correct than anyone else) is fairly similar to others but here you go.
If I was doing a lesson on fdp conversions I may use something like this:

Objective: Be able to convert between fractions, decimals and percentages.
By the end of the lesson all students will be able to:
Convert from a decimal to a percentage and back
Better if:
Convert from a percentage to a fraction and simplify
Excellent if:
Convert from a fraction to a percentage and decimal

In my mind there isn't really much of a differentiation between the objective and the outcome, just that the objective is differentiated into the outcomes (do you see what I did there?). Obviously learning outcomes must be differentiated by level (hoop jumping). Like so many things in education the theory, logic and reason behind all this is absolutely spot on but that side of things has got lost somewhere along the way.

15. ### senteachinginfo

I think I would have my objectives as:

Pupils will understand [or be able to use] reflections, rotations and translations.

Pupils will understand the effect of repeated transformations on angles and lengths.

Your outcomes can then refer to their use of accurate language and quality of explanation of the effect. For example, for the first objective the outcomes could be:

all

will identify reflections, rotations and translations

most

will be able to tell others about reflections, rotations and translations/or explain what these terms mean/or explain why they are...

some

will use mathematical vocabulary and give a full explanation of the differences between reflections, rotations and translations.

You can see these still need some work but that's where I'd start!

16. ### afterdarkOccasional commenter

I do not accept this dogma.
Students learn lots of things in lessons. Many things are auxiliary to the learning intention of the lesson/ teacher.
Never once did any one of my teachers write a learning intention on the board when I was student. I did, however, learn quite a lot.
Sorry, but this assertion does not match the facts...
It is an excuse. An excuse to criticise teachers.
I recall studying topics in my first school. The topic was the Romans etc. I did not need the teacher to say "how the Roman army was structured" or "how a Roman mosaic was made of tessera".
It was not necessary for my O level mathematics teacher to write "practice bearings trigonometry in 3D" on the board.It was obvious from the questions and the examples that was what we were doing.
It may help a few to have that intention stated but must is far too strong a word.
Also I must once again point out that students learnt far more before all this OFSTED **** was foisted upon teachers.
It is about OFSTED/observation and SMT/SLT being seen to justify their spurious positions of leaders.
Learning intentions written on the board in plans are about providing an auditable trail for AfL. To an extent they detract from the actual business of AfL.
I can give an example of this..a child is given the learning intention of adding 2 digit numbes together. During the course of the lesson it transpires through AfL that although the child is designated a suitable NC level by a previous Key Stage it transpires that they have no recollection of place value. The teacher then adjusts the child's learning to address this issue first. In this example the OFSTED inspection fails the teacher.
Blindly demanding Learning Intentions, for the sake of it, produces a lack of flexibility and does a great disservice to the children.
I, for one, do not need another strap on straight jacket imposed upon me as a teacher in form of league tables, psychopathic SLT members and OFSTED.

17. ### coyoteNew commenter

Fair enough. But you then set up and quite easily destroy a straw man. And I don't believe it is dogma. It's based on sound research. Apart from that, I think we're pretty much in agreement!
This principle does NOT require writing anything on the board at the start of the lesson. It doesn't even require that students are informed at all at the start of the lesson. None of these principles are prescriptive.
I think it's very valuable to engage in a debate about AfL principles. My whole motivation for getting involved in this thread is because the ideas are so frequently misinterpreted by people like ofsted and unfairly turned into a stick to beat us with by turning sensible principles (which may sometimes need to be temporarily ignored for good reasons that we as professionals can judge) into prescriptive instructions about how lessons MUST be presented in order to jump through a few hoops and get that coveted "good" or "outstanding grade in a lesson observation.
I would strongly advise people to read the original research and make up their own minds, rather than rely on mine or anyone else's interpretation, and be particularly wary of inferring too much from very brief quotes.

18. ### PaulDGOccasional commenter

Maths based research?

What puts kids off - what puts all of us off is "not knowing what a right answer looks like".

Kids in maths lessons don't need to write "LO: To be able to solve...." at the top of the page in their book when the come into a lesson - they need a clear exposition, they need clear statements of "when to stop" and so on.

Kids hit "brick walls" when they're not sure if they should leave their answer in terms of Pi, as a fraction (in it's simplest terms) or as a decimal.

They hit the wall when the question turns out to have a non integer (or negative) answer, because "everything" always results in an answer that is between 1 and 45.

So, yes, clear, "this is what you are to do, and answers in this form, please".

No to pointless "Learning Objectives".

(Now let me also add that I've seen things can be very different in other subjects. It's quite possible, normal even, in humanities / arts to have the same task/ area of study for a lesson with differing objectives for kids who are at different levels in their development. So "if you're working at level 3, you are to try to improve.....; if you're working at level 4....." is perfectly valid there.

Just not in maths.)
You have that so right. Now how do we stop the nonsense!?!???

19. ### googolplexOccasional commenter

It is total tosh. I remember an ofsted inspector, about 6 years back, asking an Australian supply teacher teaching Further Maths what his learning objective was. He replied 'learning objective? What's that? Chapter 6, that's what we're doing'. The inspector loved the teaching and gave him an outstanding. Learning objectives are a pointless hoop to jump through. What matters is the learning taking place in the lesson and that can be managed perfectly successfully without writing Learning Objectives all over the place...