Although the discussion on what students should learn does contain a mix of comments regarding course goals, instructional methods, methods of assessment, and the results of education research, content dominates the discussion in a way that might give the reader the sense that content is the most important component of a course. Outside this particular discussion, in course descriptions, in discussions about courses with other instructors, and in particular, during job interviews, I also find that content dominates. I want to emphasize here that content alone does not constitute a course. The content is just one component of a course and far less important than the course goals. I want to shift the emphasis in this discussion from course content to course goals, and to that end, I want to make two recommendations regarding course goals: (1) instructors should establish course goals that are independent of content and address the question, “why teach this course?” and (2) instructors should share both their course goals and the measurable student outcomes derived from those goals with their students. To augment these recommendations, I also want to comment on the topic of student misconceptions, which has received a lot of attention in this discussion on what students should learn.
Sudol, J. J. 2003, Astronomy Education Review, 2(2), p.186–189