Outcome based education (OBE) is student-centered instruction model that focuses on measuring student performance through outcomes. Outcomes include knowledge, skills and attitudes. Its focus remains on evaluation of outcomes of the program by stating the knowledge, skill and behavior a graduate is expected to attain upon completion of a program and after 4 – 5 years of graduation. In the OBE model, the required knowledge and skill sets for a particular engineering degree is predetermined and the students are evaluated for all the required parameters (Outcomes) during the course of the program.
The induction of India in the Washington Accord in 2014 with the permanent signatory status of The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) is considered a big leap forward for the higher-eduction system in India. It means that an Engineering graduate from India can be employed in any one of the other countries who have signed the accord. For Indian Engineering Institutions to get accredited by NBA according to the pacts of the accord, it is compulsory that engineering institutions follow the Outcome Based Education (OBE) model. So, for an Engineering Institution to be accredited by NBA it should compulsorily follow the OBE model.
The method of assessment of the candidates during the program is left for the institution to decide. The various assessment tools for measuring Course Outcomes include Mid -Semester and End Semester Examinations, Tutorials, Assignments, Project work, Labs, Presentations, Employer/Alumni Feedback etc,. These course outcomes are mapped to Graduate attributes and Program outcomes based on relevance. This evaluation pattern helps Institutions to measure the Program Outcome. The Program Educational Objective is measure through Employer satisfaction survey (Yearly), Alumni survey (Yearly), Placement records and higher education records.
The adoption of OBE at engineering institutions is considered to be a great step forward for higher education in India but the actual success lies in the effective adoption and stringent accreditation process to ensure the quality of education is maintained.
Benefits of OBE
The focus on outcomes creates a clear expectation of what needs to be accomplished by the end of the course. Students will understand what is expected of them and teachers will know what they need to teach during the course. Clarity is important over years of schooling and when team teaching is involved. Each team member, or year in school, will have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished in each class, or at each level, allowing students to progress. Those designing and planning the curriculum are expected to work backwards once an outcome has been decided upon; they must determine what knowledge and skills will be required to reach the outcome.
With a clear sense of what needs to be accomplished, instructors will be able to structure their lessons around the student’s needs. OBE does not specify a specific method of instruction, leaving instructors free to teach their students using any method. Instructors will also be able to recognise diversity among students by using various teaching and assessment techniques during their class. OBE is meant to be a student-centered learning model. Teachers are meant to guide and help the students understand the material in any way necessary, study guides, and group work are some of the methods instructors can use to facilitate students learning.
OBE can be compared across different institutions. On an individual level, institutions can look at what outcomes a student has achieved to decide what level the student would be at within a new institution. On an institutional level, institutions can compare themselves, by checking to see what outcomes they have in common, and find places where they may need improvement, based on the achievement of outcomes at other institutions. The ability to compare easily across institutions allows students to move between institutions with relative ease. The institutions can compare outcomes to determine what credits to award the student. The clearly articulated outcomes should allow institutions to assess the student’s achievements rapidly, leading to increased movement of students. These outcomes also work for school to work transitions. A potential employer can look at records of the potential employee to determine what outcomes they have achieved. They can then determine if the potential employee has the skills necessary for the job.
Student involvement in the classroom is a key part of OBE. Students are expected to do their own learning, so that they gain a full understanding of the material. Increased student involvement allows students to feel responsible for their own learning, and they should learn more through this individual learning. Other aspects of involvement are parental and community, through developing curriculum, or making changes to it. OBE outcomes are meant to be decided upon within a school system, or at a local level. Parents and community members are asked to give input in order to uphold the standards of education within a community and to ensure that students will be prepared for life after school.
Drawbacks of OBE
The definitions of the outcomes decided upon are subject to interpretation by those implementing them. Across different programs or even different instructors outcomes could be interpreted differently, leading to a difference in education, even though the same outcomes were said to be achieved. By outlining specific outcomes, a holistic approach to learning is lost. Learning can find itself reduced to something that is specific, measurable, and observable. As a result, outcomes are not yet widely recognized as a valid way of conceptualizing what learning is about.
When determining if an outcome has been achieved, assessments may become too mechanical, looking only to see if the student has acquired the knowledge. The ability to use and apply the knowledge in different ways may not be the focus of the assessment. The focus on determining if the outcome has been achieved leads to a loss of understanding and learning for students, who may never be shown how to use the knowledge they have gained. Instructors are faced with a challenge: they must learn to manage an environment that can become fundamentally different from what they are accustomed to. In regards to giving assessments, they must be willing to put in the time required to create a valid, reliable assessment that ideally would allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the information, while remaining objective.
Education outcomes can lead to a constrained nature of teaching and assessment. Assessing liberal outcomes such as creativity, respect for self and others, responsibility, and self-sufficiency, can become problematic. There is not a measurable, observable, or specific way to determine if a student has achieved these outcomes. Due to the nature of specific outcomes, OBE may actually work against its ideals of serving and creating individuals that have achieved many outcomes.
Parental involvement, as discussed in the benefits section can also be a drawback, if parents and community members are not willing to express their opinions on the quality of the education system, the system may not see a need for improvement, and not change to meet student’s needs. Parents may also become too involved, requesting too many changes, so that important improvements get lost with other changes that are being suggested. Instructors will also find that their work is increased; they must work to first understand the outcome, then build a curriculum around each outcome they are required to meet. Instructors have found that implementing multiple outcomes is difficult to do equally, especially in primary school. Instructors will also find their work load increased if they chose to use an assessment method that evaluates students holistically.