Setting Instructional Outcomes Based on Value, Sequence & Alignment

Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine has an M.A. in American Studies, the study of American history/society/culture. She is an instructional designer, educator, and writer.

This lesson describes three of the key areas to consider when developing a strong educational outcome: value, sequence, and alignment. Learn how to spot good outcomes and how to tweak weaker ones.

Planning Ahead

Four teachers are working on setting instructional outcomes, the learning objectives that they intend to achieve as they instruct students. The teachers working on developing outcomes are known as Unsatisfactory Ursula, Basic Bob, Proficient Pete, and Distinguished Dana. As you might guess, they vary in their ability to set good outcomes.

They're developing the outcomes based on the Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument created by Charlotte Danielson, an educational consultant who has been highly influential in developing recent evaluation methods.

In this lesson, we get to peek at how these teachers are doing with this task. In particular, we'll focus on how well they are able to represent three key areas in their outcomes: value, sequence, and alignment.


Regardless of the subject they teach, all four teachers must consider the value of the outcome they are creating. Questions they each ask themselves include:

  • Does the outcome represent significant learning in the discipline?
  • Is the outcome rigorous, thorough, and challenging? In other words, does the outcome set high expectations for students?
  • Does it help students develop conceptual learning?

For example, when Unsatisfactory Ursula creates her first instructional outcome, she states that the students in her history class will have a chance to see what it's like to churn butter.

Although this could be an activity in a history class, it's an unsatisfactory educational outcome. It's focused on what the students will do, not what they will learn. The objective also doesn't represent significant learning for the students.

In short, while churning butter might be an activity in a history class, it isn't a thorough description of what Ursula needs to achieve with her students.


The teachers must also look at the sequencing of the outcomes they are creating. They must ask themselves:

  • Is the outcome age appropriate?
  • Is the outcome appropriate to the developmental level of the students?
  • Does it fit with the curriculum?

The teacher we'll call Basic Bob takes a stab at an educational outcome for his geometry class: ''Students will learn how to divide fractions.''

Is this a good instructional outcome? This depends on the age and developmental level of his math students. In this case, it turns out that the topic of dividing fractions may be appropriately challenging to some of his students so it could have value for them.

However, since he's teaching a geometry class, he should tweak the outcome to better fit the curriculum he's assigned to instruct. If he focuses mainly on dividing fractions, but never covers the important elements of geometry, students will miss out on that part of the curriculum. One solution is to work with fractions within the topic of geometry, in a way that's appropriate to his students' level of development.


Proficient Pete, a 12th-grade language arts teacher, is hard at work on an instructional outcome: ''Students will become experts in complex existentialist literature.''

This outcome may have value and match appropriate sequencing for the students in his class. However, when Pete reviews the standards set for his subject, he realizes that if he focuses mainly on existentialist texts, he may not be aligned with the standard.

For example, if he's teaching a class using Common Core Standards for his state, Pete should refer to these when developing outcomes. He may find that a top priority is to help students gain proficiency in a variety of texts, not just one type.

Does this mean that Pete can't teach existentialist literature in his class? He certainly can, if it has value and is presented in sequence. However, he must ensure that his objectives coincide with the standards too. In this case, he needs to broaden his outcome, so it doesn't focus on one single genre.

Achieving Value, Sequence, and Alignment

An experienced teacher named Distinguished Dana decides to help Unsatisfactory Ursula to improve her educational outcome that was focused on churning butter.

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