Graduate Profile and learning outcomes

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Graduate Profile

A graduate profile is a list of outcomes or attributes that a graduate from a particular programme demonstrates. The graduate profile outcomes (GPOs) normally appears early in a programme document. Collectively, all courses within a programme should contribute towards the GPO with particular courses developing selected attributes. You can see an example of a graduate profile (with learning outcomes) for the Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education (GDTE). In this example, the learning outcomes for all the GDTE courses have been mapped against the GPOs.

Learning outcomes
are usually included in a course outline. All assessment tasks need to align with these learning outcomes, enabling students to demonstrate their competence and achievement of the learning outcomes. In most cases, the action verb used in a learning outcome indicates the cognitive level required of the student. Look at the follow examples, and consider the level of thinking for each. Which task requires the highest level of thinking?
  • Identify chemical hazards in an automotive workshop.
  • Create a plan to minimize chemical hazards in an automotive workshop.
Unless the assessment task fits the level of thinking indicated by the action verb used in the learning outcome, it will not be a valid assessment. Bloom's Revised taxonomy is a helpful resource for deciding on the 'action verbs', also called descriptors. Note, that on this site, learning outcomes are referred to as learning objectives, but that is another story.

Biggs Model of Constructive Alignment
Making sure the assessments are aligned with the learning outcomes in a course, is an important component of curriculum design. Biggs' developed a Model of Constructive Alignment that is used to explain how learning outcomes, assessments and learning activities need to line up together - each complements the other. When everything aligns, the GPOs are more likely to be achieved.

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Access and read the graduate profile outcomes for a programme on which you teach. Then select a course which you teach within this programme.
  • Analyze your course assessments and identify the graduate profile attributes that are developed through the summative assessment tasks.
  • List the learning outcomes under each GPO you identify.
  • Please explain how the assessment tasks contribute, and whether constructive alignment has occurred.