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Learning Outcomes Guide

Writing Learning Outcomes

Structure of a Learning Outcome Statement

  1. An action word that identifies the performance to be demonstrated
  2. A learning statement that specifies what learning will be demonstrated in the performance
  3. A broad statement of the criterion or standard for acceptable performance

Format of Learning Outcome

Format #1: To (action verb) (object) (target) (modifiers)

Format #2: The (target) (action verb) (modifiers) (object)

Characteristics of Good Learning Outcomes

  • Specify the level, criterion, or standard for the knowledge, skill, ability, or disposition that the learner must demonstrate
  • Include conditions under which they should be able to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, abilities, or dispositions
  • Contain active verbs using Bloom's taxonomy
  • Be measurable / assessable
  • Avoid double verbs
  • Don't use qualifiers (i.e the student will effectively...)
  • Appropriate tool must be applied to outcome
    • If verb is 'remember' than a case study is not the appropriate tool
    • Display ethical behaviors is not measurable unless in a lab, internship or practicum
    • Implement a business plan only if the student is actually expected to go out and start a business
  • Avoid use of understand. If it difficult to define and measure understanding

Objectives vs Outcome

"Learning objectives" and "learning outcomes" are often used interchangeably in the literature.

  • In general, "objectives" are intended results or consequences of instruction, curricula, programs, or activities, while "outcomes" are achieved results or consequences of what was learned, i.e. evidence that learning took place.
  • Objectives are often focused on teaching intentions and typically indicate the subject content that the teacher intends to cover.
  • Learning outcomes, on the other hand, are more student-centered and describe the actions the learner should be able to take as a result of a learning experience.

Source: University of Connecticut (2013). Assessment primer: Goals, objectives, and outcomes.