Help your students...
learn to study with our new
Student Pocket Guide.


Click to learn more about Learn2study's Student Pocket Guide...

"A wonderfully accurate insight...
I would definitely recommend this."

-- Leslie Kerr, Ph.D

Introduction to Learning Course
Trent University


"Learn2study offers a clear, straight-forward system that students can put to work to improve their study skills and raise their grades.

The Learn2study
method is not gimmicks or short-cuts, just the basics of how to learn material, take tests, and improve academic performance. I plan to give a copy of this book to each of my children."

-- Roger Ream

The Fund for
American Studies


Adam shows students the tricks of good study habits, so that they will not only do better in school but remember more of what they learn in the long run."
-- Prof. Larry Sabato
Center for Politics
Univ. of Virginia

From Theory to Practice:
Classroom Application of Outcome-Based Education

By Janet Battistini
ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication

This digest will focus on Outcome-Based Education in the language arts classroom. Though Outcome-Based Education must involve administrators, educators, parents and students, ultimately it is the classroom teacher who is the key to the success of the program. The most basic premise of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) states that all students are capable of learning and can achieve high levels of competency when teachers delineate their expectations. When this is done, students feel they are participants in classroom decisions and tend to be more supportive of all aspects of the class. Thus, one of the main objectives of OBE is met as students and staff both take responsibility for successful learning outcomes.

Any teacher involved with OBE must be able to evaluate the effectiveness of his/her classroom experience implementing OBE. The following list delineates some of the tenets of OBE, and this digest will demonstrate how some of these tenets are utilized in the language arts/reading classroom:

  • Both staff and students take responsibility for successful learning.
  • Objectives are clearly defined.
  • Students have choices and options, thus they usually perform at higher levels of competency.
  • Instructional levels are determined after complete assessment of student mastery.
  • Students are given the opportunity to gain from others and to build a hierarchy of learning skills.
  • Evaluation by both peers and instructors is ongoing.
  • Time is varied for learning according to the needs of each student and the complexity of the task
  • Students are given the opportunity to work with core and alternative curriculum.
  • All students are ensured the opportunity for personal success.


Throughout the course the instructor must make a sincere attempt to meet each student at his/her level of competency and build upon the strengths already there. The first week a profile of reading/writing strengths of each student is created. This is done in a nonthreatening manner and is personalized as much as possible. Students are tested with the revised Gates-MacGinite Reading Tests---Vocabulary and Comprehension. In addition, students produce a writing sample in the classroom while listening to classical music.

As part of the profile, students complete two different interest inventories. Students also write a brief biography at this time and share these with a small group. By the end of the first several days of the course, students have clear objectives of the program, a classroom climate of mutual respect has been built, and the teacher has a great deal of information about each student. At this juncture there is a completed assessment of student mastery in varied areas, and one can determine where instructional levels will begin.


An area in the language arts/reading programs where ongoing assessment is of great value is in peer editing and teacher conferences. To teach reading and writing in a comprehensive manner, the teacher must realize that not all students will be working on the same activity during the same time. Varying the time for learning according to the needs of each student and the complexity of the task are especially apparent in the writing process. Student intervention with a specific writing partner or small group will give the necessary feedback.

While peer editing is essential, teacher conferences are a significant feature of the writing process. Students feel very special as the instructor focuses all his/her attention on the student and the writing. When conferencing with students it is important to distinguish at least two areas of expertise and two areas for improvement on a given assignment. The instructor should keep written notes on the writing details, and the student needs to keep written verification of these notes. Thus both teacher and student know where the student needs instruction, and the teacher can easily and accurately check for mastery of this objective in the next writing piece. Students keep their writing in a portfolio and often select representative work for the portfolio with the input of the instructor as well as that of other students.


It is significant to note that a textbook is not used for these classes. A regular textbook would bring a sense of confinement, and it is preferable to use trade books and authentic materials from the world around the students. Each year units of study that meet the changing needs of the student population are developed and integrated into the curricula. Past units have included socioeconomic issues, ecology, and music and its role in the life of teenagers. In this manner one can build upon the interests of the students and individualize their classroom experience.

Integral to this program is the completion of projects, reports, and group activities rather than a myriad of summative tests. These evaluations are usually a better assessment of a student's thoughts. The projects are often open-ended, giving the students freedom to explore whatever their interests and abilities lead them to.


  • Attempt to have your total staff in concert with the tenets of your program. Teachers need updated education and are usually open to new ideas and will implement them if they feel significant support from administration and other staff members. Plan a day-long program at the outset for introducing and educating the staff with the objectives of your resolve. Speakers for our staff development programs have included both outside presenters and our own personnel. Sometimes outside presenters have a wide appeal and bring a fresh approach to a given subject. Our program has been effective for many reasons, but one is the direct input of the staff in deciding what they want in terms of staff development.

  • Continue to conference with content area teachers. Because language arts is the basis for all other disciplines, continue to make yourself available to other staff members for support and assistance with specific areas of Outcome-Based Education. Some staff members will need more direction as new concepts are introduced and implemented. Become familiar with the texts used by other departments, and you will be able to offer assistance as new ideas are implemented.

  • Success is contagious, and others will see the benefits of the program and be more eager to share their concerns and ideas with you. Sometimes it is beneficial to begin with just a few new ideas, and then as a comfort zone is established, the more dramatic steps can be taken.

Not every time a class meets will it incorporate all aspects of OBE. However, by focusing on the growth and progress of the individual student, one usually sees a pattern of success. Mutual trust is built from the first day of the course and carries through to every aspect of the classroom experience. Every class has a personality of its own, and the unique chemistry of students and instructors learning and teaching with common goals is a form of achievement that cannot easily be measured. The long-term effects of competent teachers interacting with motivated students is never really known. However, one can identify when short-term goals have been met. Such successes of student-teacher cooperation and achievement have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of many using these objectives.

For additional information, consult the following sources:

Brookhart, Donna, and Pat McGuire (1991). From Task List to Curriculum: A Teacher's Guide to Outcome-Based Curriculum. Second Edition. [ED 344 052]

Burns, Robert, and David Squires (1987). Curriculum Organization in Outcome-Based Education. San Francisco: Far West Lab for Educational Research & Development. [ED 294 313]

Glatthorn, Allan A. (1993). "Outcome-Based Education: Reform and the Curriculum Process." Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 8(4), 354-64. [EJ 465 317]

Jacobsen, Gary, and Cynthia Jacobsen (1992). One School's Approach to Outcome Based Education. Paper presented at the Rural & Small Schools Conference (Grand Forks). [ED 347 034]

Marzano, Robert J. (1994). "Lessons from the Field about Outcome-Based Performance Assessments." Educational Leadership, 51(6), 44-50. [EJ 481 246]

Mitchell, Linda, et al. (1993). "Designing Successful Learning: Staff Development for Outcome-Based Instruction." Journal of Staff Development, 14(3), 28-31. [EJ 482 527]

Shanks, Joyce (1993). Unintended Outcomes: Curriculum and Outcome-Based Education. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Atlanta). [ED 359 205]

Wenzlaff, Terri (1992). Performance-Based Education: How One District Handled State Mandates. [ED 365 664]

This publication was prepared (Digest #98,EDO-CS-98-01, June 1995) with funding from the U.S. Department of Education under contract number RR93002011, and published by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English and Communication.

The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of Learn2study, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by Learn2study.