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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.

  • Learning Objective: This workshop will cover background and method for writing learning objectives.
  • Learning Outcome: At the end of this session, participants will be able to construct a learning outcome for an undergraduate course.

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