OBE: Changing the Context of Learning

The Philippines is now focusing on OBE because of some particular reasons:

  • Globalization of Education – Education agreements around the world promotes OBE. The Philippine Technological Council apply for Washington Accord, thus, different universities have taken their initiatives to move towards OBE.
  • International Trends – There are International Professional Registries especially for engineering program require completion of a program that is accredited by an OBE system.
  • Global mobility for Professional Practice - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will require establishment of an OBE System to promote global mobility.

To facilitate achieving this goals of international recognition and global competencies, educational institutions particularly universities constantly play an increasingly important role in developing and creating our human capital.

What is OBE?

OBE is defined as a “…comprehensive approach to organizing and operating an education system that is focused in and defined by the successful demonstrations of learning sought from each student” Clearly focusing and organizing EVERYTHING in an educational system on what is essential for all students to be able to do successfully at the end of their learning experiences. (Spady,W.,1994).

Outcomes based education (OBE) is a process that involves the restructuring of curriculum, assessment and reporting practices in education to reflect the achievement of high order learning and mastery rather than the accumulation of course credits” (Tucker, 2004).

An Education Department of Western Australia document describes OBE as “an educational process which is based on trying to achieve certain specified outcomes in terms of individual student learning.” (Willis & Kissane, 1995).

 OBE –an educational delivery system that emphasizes learning outcomes, assessment and evaluation, and continuous quality improvement rather than detailed curricular specifications (ref.  Engineering Criteria 2000 or EC2000).

Root of OBE

Past educational reforms that influenced OBE:

•      Tyler’s educational objectives 

•      Bloom’s mastery learning

•      Competency based education

•      Glaser’s criterion-referenced learning

•      Spady’s OBE

OBE can be considered as a philosophy of education. In OBE there are a certain set of beliefs and assumptions about learning, teaching and the entire structures within which actions take place.  W. Spady proposes three basic assumptions: all learners can learn and succeed; success breeds success; and “teaching institutions” (schools/university) control the conditions of success. Spady (1994)

Principles of OBE  (Spady, 1994)

CLARITY OF FOCUS – all activities (teaching, assessment, etc) aregeared towards what we want students to demonstrate.

With this principle the student will develop competencies, they will enable to determine and assess the significant outcomes of what being thought to them.

EXPANDED OPPORTUNITY – “expanding the ways and number of times students get a chance to learn and demonstrate” a particular outcome.

The principle is developing systematic education curricula that could lead to a desired end results. It link planning, teaching and assessment decisions to significant learner outcomes.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS – “getting rid off the bell-curve”, all students shouldachieve at the highest level of performance.

This principle holds intensely with issues on learning. It push further than what is expected.

DESIGN DOWN (“TOP-DOWN”) –“designing the curriculum from the point at which you want your students to end up.

Present numerous learning opportunities corresponding to learner’s needs by means of various teaching techniques.

Aim of OBE

OBE aims to carry desired changes within the learners, by increasing and developing their knowledge and skills; and completely enhancing their behavior, values and judgment. 

How do we move to OBE?

In implementing an OBE system, there are major steps to be followed: (1) HEI should establish degree Program Educational Objectives (PEO). The PEO is broad statement that describes what to be expected to graduates after few years. PEO should be consistent with the mission and vision of the institution and should address the need of the stakeholders; (2) each degree program should establish Student Outcomes (SO). SO need to be measurable. It should specify what students are expected to know before they finish their degree program. Furthermore, SO should relate to the skills, knowledge and behaviors that students should acquire in the program; (3) after the preparation of PEO and SO, HEI should establish the learning processes. The design of teaching and learning strategies should be coordinated with the syllabi of courses which include the assigned student outcomes. Assessment of SO should be incorporated in the teaching and learning process. Both students and teachers should collaborate to achieve the objectives and outcomes; (4) structure the curriculum to achieve the SOs and PEOs; (5) assess and evaluate objectives and outcomes. Utilize the results of evaluations to change degree program or system to improve the quality of education; and (6) periodically the Program Education Objectives should be assessed and evaluated for continuous quality improvement (CQI).  Continuous Quality Improvement is a periodic feedback process for changing any aspect of a program wherein results from assessment and evaluation are used in the formulation of the changes, with expected higher degrees of attainment of program educational objectives and higher degrees of attainment of student outcomes.

Personal Insights

The center of education has change from the educationalist to student, yet this change still requires transformation within the educational system of an institution in order to facilitate learning.  Implementing an OBE system for education is an excellent way for a particular learner to reach the optimum result. Both the institution and the educator should work hand in hand to enable and encourage all learners to achieve essential outcomes at the same time the learner should actively participates in and contributes towards the learning process. OBE also demands a commitment to continuing professional development and lifelong learning.





Let’s Discuss:

Are you in support of shifting your educational system to an OBE system? Why or Why not?


About the Author.

Suzette Masangcay-Mercado is currently taking up Master of Science in Engineering Education major in Industrial Engineering at Rizal Technological University, Mandaluyong City. She is presently a faculty member of Batangas State University, Alangilan Campus under the College of Engineering, Architecture and Fine Arts.


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