Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


Novel Recipes




core definition

Outcome is:

1. shorthand for the product or endeavours of a higher education institution (or sector), including student learning and skills development, research outputs and contributions to the wider society locally or internationally (institutional outcomes).

2. shorthand for learning outcome (discussed elsewhere).

explanatory context

At the institutional level, outcomes are related to provision.

analytical review

Fraser et al. (2002) use the following as a working definition:

An outcome is a clearly identified result or end product that occurs as a consequence of individual or combined activities from units at the institution. It is a preferred or desired state and ideally clarifies specific expectations of what should be products from the institution. An institutional outcome can be defined and measured in such a way that evidence is available to determine the amount or degree to which the outcome does, in fact, occur.


Vlãsceanu et al. (2004) describe institutional outcomes in terms of countable outcomes, which they define as:

Countable Outcomes: Results that can be quantified; all measures of student outcomes except learning gains, including executive function skills, and affective-related measures. Examples of countable outcomes include: numbers of persons who gain employment, numbers of people who register to vote, and numbers of people who achieve a graduate education degree. Learning gains are gains in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and numeracy. Executive function skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, and meta-cognition. Affective-related measures include self-esteem, self-confidence, and interpersonal communication.

Mueller (2011), refering to the United States, maintains:

Preceding the current standards-based movement was a drive for outcome-based education. The term standard has replaced the term outcome with much the same meaning.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO, 2012) defines outcomes as:

The benefits or changes for intended beneficiaries.They tend to be less tangible and therefore less countable than outputs. Outcomes are usually planned and are therefore set out in an organisation's objectives. Outcomes may be causally and linearly related; that is, one outcome leads to another, which leads to another and so on, forming a linear sequence of if-then relationships.

associated issues


related areas

See also

learning outcomes



Fraser, B.T. and McClure, C.R. assisted by Leahy, E.H. Dagli, A. and Darling, I.S., 2002, Information Use Management and Policy Institute, Association of Research Libraries E-Metrics Project, January, available at, accessed 5 September 2012, page not available 4 January 2017.

Mueller, J., 2011, Authentic Assessment Toolbox; Glossary at, accessed 5 September 2012, still available 27 June 2019 (page ©2018).

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), 2012, Measuring Impact - A Guide To Resources, available at, accessed 16 January 2012, not available to access without being logged in 5 September 2012.

Vlãsceanu, L., Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2004, Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions (Bucharest, UNESCO-CEPES) Papers on Higher Education.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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