The Dirty Job of Writing Curriculum

WorkYour hands may not get dirty, but your brain will get a workout!  Here are a few tips for creating a stellar Course Outcome Summary in WIDS (aka above the line documentation or ATL documentation).


Competencies communicate the skill students must demonstrate or product to produce.  Tips for creating competencies:

  • Address a single, measurable/observable skill
  • Be specific as to what’s expected on the job
  • Start with an action verb
  • State as a full sentence
  • Does not use and form of the words ”know” and “understand”

Learning Objectives

This component of course documentation address learning of processes, procedures, products.  Be sure learning objectives capture learning, not assessment/performance.

  • Theories
  • Concepts
  • Facts
  • Processes
  • Skills
  • Attitudes
  • Standards

Learning objectives address a part of the competency, not a bigger skill or end product.  This is where Bloom’s Taxonomy (the verb list) comes in handy. Learning objectives should directly relate to the learning ACTIVITIES (readings, homework, classroom activities, etc.) documented in the below the line materials.

Performance Criteria

This piece of the above the line documentation gives learners the specifications for evaluating their performance or the products they develop. Performance criteria provide the basis for judging if performance is acceptable.


There is no limit to the number of criteria.  At minimum, you should have one performance criteria for each learning objective…minimum.  Performance Criteria are the foundation for objective assessment.  Criteria can address a process, behavior or product, capturing the following:

  • Characteristics of the product/performance, qualities or elements
  • Accuracy or tolerance
  • Speed
  • Percent or number
  • Permissible errors
  • Reference to industry standards
  • Requirements of skill/product
  • Degree of excellence – be specific to describe excellence

Employability Skills

NWTC follows 7 Employability Skills college wide.  These skills address behaviors necessary to be successful in any profession and the community.  Employability Skills are integrated into all courses and programs, potentially ranking with equal importance as the course competencies and program outcomes.

  • Communicate Effectively
  • Think Critically and Creatively
  • Solve Problems Effectively
  • Work Cooperatively and Professionally
  • Value Individual Differences and Abilities
  • Demonstrate Personal Accountability
  • Demonstrate
  • Community and Global Accountability

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