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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 43  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 481--482

Perspectives regarding intended learning outcomes in pharmacology

Vasudha Devi1, Vinod Pallath2, Tatiyana Mandal1, Smita Khandelwal1, Debasree Deb1, Sunita Kodidela1,  
1 Department of Pharmacology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Microbiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Vasudha Devi
Department of Pharmacology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Devi V, Pallath V, Mandal T, Khandelwal S, Deb D, Kodidela S. Perspectives regarding intended learning outcomes in pharmacology.Indian J Pharmacol 2011;43:481-482

How to cite this URL:
Devi V, Pallath V, Mandal T, Khandelwal S, Deb D, Kodidela S. Perspectives regarding intended learning outcomes in pharmacology. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2011 [cited 2021 Jan 16 ];43:481-482
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Outcome-based education focuses on the curriculum from the outcomes that one wants students to demonstrate rather than writing the objectives for the curriculum that one already has. [1] In any curriculum, effective instruction requires a close match between instructional objectives, teaching methods, and assessment procedures. [2] When the instructional objectives (IOs) are stated as intended learning outcomes (ILOs), they provide a clear achievement targets for students. [2] With this background, the objective of this study was to investigate students' and faculty perspectives regarding newly designed intended learning outcomes (ILOs) in pharmacology.

At Melaka Manipal Medical College (Manipal Campus), in the MBBS course, students study pharmacology in four blocks. At the end of each block there will be a block-end examination. The regular feedback taken from the various batches of students and faculty revealed that the pharmacology instructional objectives for MBBS students were good enough to give knowledge and comprehension of all topics but were not specific enough to represent all logical learning outcomes of the instructional area. Hence, pharmacology department at MMMC came to the consensus to reframe the earlier pharmacology IOs as ILOs.

To begin with, each pharmacology faculty prepared ILOs for the allotted teaching topics independently. Later ILOs were discussed in the department faculty meetings and were finalized by consensus. Feedback was also taken from the experts in medical education. Care was taken to minimise overlap in ILOs. During the process of designing ILOs, the principles given by Gronlund NE [2] regarding the writing instructional objectives for teaching and assessment was followed. The taxonomy of educational objectives developed by Bloom [3] was used as a framework for identifying and classifying specific learning outcomes. The newly designed ILOs were given to one batch of students at the commencement of block 3 and 4, after explaining the possible benefits of ILOs. These students followed old IOs in pharmacology in Block 1 and 2.

To assess students' and faculty perspectives regarding ILOs, two questionnaires containing open- and closed-ended questions were developed. The content and construct validity of the questionnaires were assessed by taking feedback from the other pharmacology faculty and experts in medical education. After obtaining informed consent, students and faculty were asked to respond to the questionnaires in Likert scale after third block examination.

Frequency analysis of responses to closed-ended questions was done using SPSS version 16. The student and faculty responses to open-ended questions were grouped into those related to quality and utility of ILOs, those related to satisfaction regarding ILOs and related to changes required in the ILOs. Then the responses were tabulated in the decreasing order of their frequency.

A total of 110 students and 8 faculty members participated in the study. The response rate was 97% and 100% for students and faculty respectively. Students felt that ILOs were more specific [Table 1], comprehensive, detailed and lengthier than IOs. Students also opined that ILOs were useful in learning as well as during the preparation for block examination [Table 1]. Results also revealed that students were satisfied with ILOs as majority of them felt that further changes were not required in the ILOs. The responses related to the quality of ILOs suggest that the ILOs not only stimulated their interest but also provided a better direction to their learning than the IOs. Students also felt confident after reading a chapter due to the availability of ILOs that provided the students a basis for evaluating their own progress. Faculty felt that ILOs were more specific than IOs and provided a basis for selecting an appropriate method and materials for instruction. They also opined that ILOs functioned as guidelines for teaching. Majority of faculty suggested that some of the ILOs need revision and more emphasis has to be given for ILOs that cover applied aspects of pharmacology. {Table 1}

In future, our plan is to use these ILOs judiciously in teaching and find out the lacunae in them and revise them accordingly. The ultimate aim is to derive a final list of ILOs that most clearly indicate our instructional intent. In conclusion, when ILOs are clearly stated and if shared at the beginning of the instruction, they motivate students and make them aware of complexity of the learning process and acts as a guide for learning. For faculty, ILOs provide a focus and act as guidelines for instruction.


1Spady WG. Organising for results: The basis for authentic restructuring and reform. Educ Leadersh 1988;46:4-8.
2Gronlund NE, editor. Writing instructional objectives for teaching and assessment. 7 th ed. Upper Saddle River, N J: Merrill/Prentice Hall; 2004.
3Bloom B, Englehart M, Furst E, Hill W, Krathwohl D. editors. Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay;1956.