Hattie Duplechain

Hattie Duplechain is Ashoka U's Research & Evaluation Specialist. She leads measurement efforts for the Ashoka U team.

Three Ways Learning Outcomes Can Increase Your Impact

What does it mean to prepare a student to be a changemaker?

A little over a year ago, we asked you this question in our blog post Three Critical Questions Changemaker Learning Outcomes Can Help Us Answer. In over 200 conversations about learning outcomes, you offered your thoughtful and hard-earned answers to this question.

As a result, we learned a lot about the mindsets, knowledge, and skills you are working to help your students cultivate. We also heard your stories about why social impact learning outcomes matter and about how you are using these words on a page for changemaking impact.

We built on your insights to create our newest publication: Preparing Students for a Rapidly Changing World: Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship, and Changemaker Learning Outcomes. Then we worked with Jerrid Kalakay at Teaching Change to help bring the content to life in a special seven-episode podcast series.

Both the guide and the podcast series feature three key ways that learning outcomes can help you increase your impact:

1) Learning Outcomes for Building Community:

One of the most consistent insights educators shared was about the value of including your whole, diverse changemaking community in the process of developing learning outcomes. While differences in perspective can make the process tricky at times, it also leads to stronger outcome frameworks that are more representative of the diverse set of attributes that effective changemakers need.

Educators also found that when they reached out to their community, the process to develop outcomes often became an opportunity to open conversations, build relationships, and strengthen their changemaker community. As Paul Rogers, of George Mason University, shared –

“Learning outcomes are really great for building cohesion… They very effectively catalyze the… conversations that can lead to educational clarity. And that clarity is always welcome.”

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2) Learning Outcomes for Strengthening Educational Offerings:

Learning outcomes are a part of a continual feedback loop. They articulate intentions for student learning, guide educational design, and act as a critical step in impact measurement and program iteration.

But it’s easy for the learning outcomes step of this loop to get lost in the busy shuffle of educational design and teaching.

Educators emphasized the importance of taking time to develop learning outcomes – both as a critical step for continually improving educational offerings and as a way to return to the “why” behind this work. The process to develop learning outcomes creates space for us to reflect on why changemaking education matters and what is most important for students to learn.

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3) Learning Outcomes for Engaging Students:

 While the educational experiences we design are clearly for students, students are often left out of learning outcomes conversation. Educators emphasized that student voice is key in crafting relevant learning outcomes.

Educators also shared that learning outcomes can be a powerful tool to share with students. Learning outcomes can help them understand their own learning journeys and reflect on their own growth. As Rebecca Riccio, of Northeastern University, shared –

“I’m not just thinking about what I’m supposed to teach my students this semester. I’m trying to turn the semester into a meaningful step on their path to lives of purpose and social change engagement.”

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Interested in building community, strengthening your educational offerings, and engaging students? We believe learning outcomes are a powerful tool across this work.

In Preparing Students for a Rapidly Changing World, you’ll find learning outcome frameworks for social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and changemaker education. You’ll be able to read about the process others have gone through to develop their learning outcomes. And you’ll see how educators are using these frameworks in their classrooms and across campus. Get your copy here! Explore the Teaching Change podcast and Ashoka U’s learning outcomes podcast series here.