Getting Started with Writing Learning Outcomes
Defining Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes are statements that specify what participants will be able to know, do, or be upon completion of a course.
They should answer the following questions:
- What knowledge should participants possess? What should they be able to do with it?
- What skills should they demonstrate?
- What attitudes, values, or behaviors should they have?
Learning Outcome Types and Assessment Recommendations
The assessment method one chooses is driven by the thinking skills articulated in the learning outcome to be measured. Depending on whether the assessment is formative or summative, consider how students will receive feedback on their work and what they respond to or incorporate this feedback. Utilize the Learning Outcome Types and Assessment Recommendations for recommended learning technologies that could facilitate such assessments.
Writing a Specific & Measurable Outcome
- As a result of participating in (program/course name), participants will be able to (action verb) (learning statement).
Examples of learning outcomes:
- Participants will be able to describe the key characteristics of the different classes of planets.
- Participants will be able to explain economic institutions such as the Federal Reserve and stock markets.
- Participants will be able to apply basic pharmacokinetic principles to estimate drug concentration in a patient.
- Participants will be able to collaborate in a multidisciplinary team to solve an environmental problem.
The following table is based on educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (1956) with verbs representing a hierarchy of learning levels from basic knowledge to the highest level of creativity, as well as extending beyond cognitive learning to affective and psychomotor learning.
|Level of Thinking||Knowledge||Comprehension||Application||Analysis||Synthesis||Evaluation|
|A Few Action Words for Outcomes||
Reviewing your Outcomes
- Do they emphasize the participant, use an action verb, and incorporate a learning statement?
- Are they specific and clear?
- Are they observable?
- Are they measurable? How will they be assessed?
- Are they able to be demonstrated?
- Do they align with the outcomes of the program, unit, or college?