The curate’s egg approach to learning outcomes @researchED2013


I’ve been mulling around various debates currently going on within education in England. So I drew a picture.

The Curate's Egg (behr outcomes version July 2013)

The Curate’s Egg (behr outcomes version July 2013)

I apologise if this resembles a prior diagram by anyone but I can assure you it is completely off the top of the head.

The title links to a previous post about the curriculum. This used the analogy of a curate’s egg for the, some would say, false  dichotomy between knowledge and skills. It builds on terminology developed by ED Hirsch which is described in a recent book by the educationist and blogger Daisy Christodoulou.

Since then we have recently seen the latest announcement from the English Education Ministry about accountability measures in primary (age 5-11) schools. This raises the issue of measuring (potential) attainment for individual young children and comparing it with a national set of norms through a ranking process.

So the diagram includes the paired terms knowledge and skills, and attainment and rank, diagonally opposed to each other. What unites them is a share of the whole egg that entails a learning outcome.

In a report I wrote for a UK awarding organisation I defined a learning outcome as: “a category of educational outcome by which an individual learner would normally increase his/her knowledge, skills, understanding and/or competence.” This is more specific than the World Bank’s definition: “A learning outcome is the particular knowledge, skill or behavior that a student is expected to exhibit after a period of study.” The term ‘attainment target’ is used in the National Curriculum in England, though not really defined in any detail except by giving examples under different subjects’ programmes of study. I assume an increase in young people’s knowledge or skills in my definition as clearly we don’t want education that reduces these (or understanding and competence) , though arguably this does take place in some very dogmatic parts of the world. North Korea springs to mind.

What use is the diagram?

Another chance for a Dalai Lama type answer: “I don’t know.”

More seriously, it would be good if someone could neatly describe the egg with its 4 different parts and the balances between them. Perhaps this is a job for speakers and delegates at the ResearchED 2013 conference this September?

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2 thoughts on “The curate’s egg approach to learning outcomes @researchED2013

  1. Pingback: Restating the importance of the skills agenda #CBIskills | behrfacts

  2. Pingback: It’s time to unscramble the learning outcome egg @researched2013 | behrfacts

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