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When you review various curricular plans, you may see a variety of terms. Some programs use the term “program outcomes” while others use the term “terminal objectives” for those actions that the student is expected to accomplish upon graduation. The same is true for individual courses. Some programs call the knowledge and skills that a student should master by the end of the course “course outcomes” while others use the term “course objectives.” All of the terms have a specified definition in literature and according to accreditation agencies. What are the similarities and differences between the terms according to the literature and to accrediting agencies? Select a program or course (other than GCU) and critique their use of these terms. Do they use them in a manner consistent with the literature and/or accreditation agencies or do they use them differently? Include your review of the program in your response to this discussion question. Support your response with literature. Your critique could be at the program level or at the course level. You do not need to do both levels.

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Introduction: The terms “program outcomes,” “course outcomes,” “terminal objectives,” and “course objectives” are often used interchangeably in educational programs. However, these terms have specific definitions according to literature and accrediting agencies. In this answer, I will discuss the similarities and differences between these terms and provide a critique of a selected program’s use of them.

Similarities and differences: According to the literature, program outcomes and terminal objectives refer to the knowledge, skills, and competencies that a student is expected to acquire by the end of their program. Similarly, course outcomes and course objectives refer to the specific knowledge and skills that a student should master by the end of a course. Both program outcomes/terminal objectives and course outcomes/objectives are written in measurable terms and aligned with the program’s mission and goals.

However, accrediting agencies may use these terms differently. For example, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) defines “program outcomes” as the set of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for entry-level occupational therapists. On the other hand, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) uses the term “terminal objectives” to describe the specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes that a pharmacy student should master before graduating.

Critique of a selected program: The nursing program at XYZ university uses the term “program outcomes” to describe the expected knowledge, skills, and competencies of their graduates. Upon reviewing their program outcomes, I found that they are measurable and aligned with the program’s mission and goals. However, the program could benefit from incorporating more specific and measurable terminal objectives for each course. By doing so, students will have a better understanding of what they should achieve by the end of each course and how it contributes to their overall program outcomes.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the terms “program outcomes,” “terminal objectives,” “course outcomes,” and “course objectives” have specific definitions according to literature and accrediting agencies. While the definitions may vary, they all refer to the knowledge, skills, and competencies that a student is expected to acquire by the end of a program or course. It is important for educational programs to use these terms consistently and in a measurable manner to ensure students achieve the desired outcomes.

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