Assessment and Evaluation,  Educational Theory

An Outcomes-Based Practice Continuum

Previous Educatus blog posts have discussed outcomes-based assessment and grading outcomes versus grading assignments. This post will discuss a continuum of outcomes-based practices including referencing outcomes, assessing outcomes, and reporting student achievement on outcomes.

 Referencing Outcomes 

Referencing outcomes is a beginning outcomes-based practice. Outcomes are referenced within each assignment, often with the instruction section. Here, the instructor has created the assignment with the outcomes in mind and makes this visible. However, outcomes are not assessed separately, and assignments are given a ‘blanket score’ for multiple learning outcomes. Gradebook reporting is done by assignment.

Outcome Referenced Assessments

Assessing Outcomes within Assignments 

The next stage occurs when the outcomes within assignments are assessed. This stage provides valuable insight to determine the most important areas for improvement. Instructors create valid tools, such as rubrics, to assess the outcomes. Outcomes are assessed separately but assignments are given a ‘blanket score’ for multiple learning outcomes. Gradebook reporting is still done by assignment. 

Assessing and Reporting Outcomes in the Gradebook 

The notable difference at this stage is the move away from providing “blanket scores” to assignments and instead reporting outcome achievement. The gradebook no longer has “bins” for each type of assignment; rather, the “bins” are organized by outcome. Each assignment is a means of assessing outcomes and a “blanket” assignment mark is not required. Each outcome is assessed through multiple assignments and each outcome is reported in the gradebook.

Although we presented the continuum as distinct stages, in reality, the distinction is not so clear. Within any course or program, you may find occurrences of each practice. 


How do outcomes-based practices support learners in determining how well they met each outcome and what they need to focus on for improvement?

How do outcomes-based practices support the USask Assessment Principles, specifically providing a valid and trustworthy representation of student achievement?


For more support in building outcomes-based assessment, please reach out to the Gwenna Moss Teaching and Learning Centre