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Webinar: Active Learning: Utilizing Backwards Design to Articulate Learning Outcomes & Maximize Student Learning

March 30, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm

SUNY Broome Professional development

This is the first in a series of spring 2023 webinars focused on Active Learning. However, each webinar in this series stands-alone.

The primary measure of student success is learning; students succeed when they learn. Student learning is also the most important way to judge teacher success; teachers succeed when students learn. So, it is vital for teachers to design assignments and lead classes where students have the best opportunity to learn. This idea that teachers should think of themselves as course designers and learning facilitators is one of the key elements of Active Learning, an evidence-based teaching and learning paradigm shown to promote more learning compared to the traditional lecture approach. But, before teachers can think about designing their courses to drive more student learning, we need to consider what, exactly, students need to learn.

The content that students study in a course is obviously important but regardless of the topics covered in class and studied by students outside of class, we only know students have learned something when they utilize knowledge they have acquired in some relevant way. Learning outcomes identify these skills (cognitive, physical, etc.) that successful students will develop and be able to use to showcase their learning at the end of the semester and, hopefully, in future classes and in their careers and lives.

Participants in this webinar should come with a particular course in mind and will be invited to think seriously about what students should be learning in their classes through this outcomes-based lens. We’ll focus on articulating meaningful course learning outcomes, a critical process both for teachers who think they have already identified their outcomes and those of us who haven’t. Too often learning outcomes are written in abstract academic language that fails to engage teachers or students. Working to create outcomes that are authentic for all stakeholders is vital. It is also critical to unpack any hidden learning outcomes as teachers often have implicit expectations for students that are worth highlighting.

Next, we will work together to distinguish the topics and content of our courses from the learning outcomes and then consider the proper relationship between content and outcomes. In an Active Learning approach, we select and utilize the content that best allows students to gain proficiency or fluency with the learning outcomes. Thinking about course design this way opens possibilities for selecting content that students best engage with including culturally relevant content, a practice shown to close equity opportunity gaps for URM students.

This webinar will take an “active learning” approach so participants should expect to watch and listen but more importantly to write, think, and participate with the presenter and with each other during the webinar. Case studies will be presented but participants are encouraged to think about and work on a course that is relevant to them.


  • Explore the Active Learning paradigm by contrasting it with the Transmission of Knowledge approach to teaching and learning.
  • Assess and address criticisms associated with an outcomes-based approach to teaching and learning.
  • Recognize why articulating learning outcomes is a vital first step in an Active Learning course design.
  • Consider learning outcomes including program/degree outcomes, course-level outcomes, unit and assignment outcomes, as well as teacher-specific learning outcomes.
  • Contrast course content or topics with the course learning outcomes and consider how the relationship between content and outcomes impacts course design and student learning.
  • Utilize a Nesting Dolls metaphor to analyze and prioritize learning outcomes as part of the design process.
  • Consider the next steps for backwards design once learning outcomes are clarified.

Date: Thursday, March 30, 2023
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm
Location: Decker 117

Please register!

Submitted by: Deena Price


March 30, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
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