Tips for Writing Effective Learning Outcomes
An expected learning outcome is a formal statement of what students are expected to learn in a course. Expected learning outcome statements refer to specific knowledge, practical skills, areas of professional development, attitudes, higher-order thinking skills, etc. that faculty members expect students to develop, learn, or master during a course
Learning outcomes have three major characteristics:
The outcomes should be specific, demonstrable (measurable), and student-centered. They should include ONE action verb from Bloom’s taxonomy chart. Course Learning outcomes determine what students should know or be able to do upon completion of the course. They must be observable and measurable and specify the knowledge, skills and abilities to be gained by the student while navigating the course content and activities.
Well-articulated Course Learning Outcomes can help:
Writing SMART Learning Outcomes
A good learning outcome is clearly described, easy to understand, and appropriate given the context (e.g., time allotted for the learning, depth and breadth of the learning experience, how the learning fits into a bigger scheme).
There are some verbs that are unclear in the context of an expected learning outcome statement (e.g., know, be aware of, appreciate, learn, understand, comprehend, become familiar with). These words are often vague, have multiple interpretations, or are simply difficult to observe or measure. As such, it is best to avoid using these terms when creating expected learning outcome statements.
For example, please look at the following learning outcomes statements:
The students will understand basic human development theory.
The students will appreciate music from other cultures.
Both of these learning outcomes are stated in a manner that will make them difficult to assess. Consider the following:
These expected learning outcomes are more effectively stated the following way:
The students will be able to describe the major theories of human development.
The students will be able to identify the characteristics of music from other cultures.
Writing Effective Learning Outcome Statements
When stating expected learning outcomes, it is important to use verbs that describe exactly what the learner(s) will be able to do upon completion of the course.