Writing learning outcomes is an essential part of the course design process. Learning outcomes are statements that define what students should be able to do after taking a course or completing a program. They provide direction to instructors in developing syllabi, assignments, and activities that align with teaching objectives. Additionally, they help measure student performance against the goals of the educational institution.
Moreover, student learning outcomes act as a guide for instructors to ensure that the educational experience is meaningful. By having clear and measurable learning goals, educators can better evaluate the success of their teaching strategies and adjust them accordingly. As a result, achieving successful outcomes may lead to improved learning experiences for students.
The Connection Between Student Learning Outcomes and Educational Objectives
In order to create effective student learning outcomes, it is important for instructors to link them back to the objectives of the educational institution. Meaningful learning experiences must begin with understanding and articulating program-level goals and expectations that are in line with students’ career aspirations.
For instance, if a course focuses on developing critical thinking skills, then the instructor should be sure to incorporate learning activities that directly relate to this goal. By aligning the course objectives with the student learning outcomes, instructors ensure that students have a thorough understanding of their expected performance.
Understanding Learning Outcomes
Defining Learning Outcomes: What are They?
Learning outcomes are statements that specify what students should know, understand, and be able to do after completing a course or program. They provide an understanding of what the student will gain from the experience. Furthermore, learning outcomes must be measurable so that they can be used to assess student performance.
For example, an instructor might write a statement such as: “By the end of this course, students should be able to analyze and evaluate literature using critical thinking skills.” This statement clearly spells out what the expected performance is for the student and allows instructors to properly measure their progress.
The Role of Learning Outcomes in the Learning Process
Learning outcomes are closely related to student assessment. Clear and measurable learning objectives help instructors better assess student performance throughout the course. Additionally, they provide students with a clear understanding of their expected performance. By having a set of well-defined goals, students can adjust their efforts accordingly and focus on tasks that will help them reach those objectives.
Program Learning Outcomes vs Course-Level Learning Outcomes
Program learning outcomes often reflect the overall goals of an educational institution. They are usually broad statements that describe general skills or competencies that students should possess by the end of the program.
Course-level learning outcomes, on the other hand, are more specific and focus on student performance within a single course. Unlike program-level objectives, they are tailored to the content and activities of a particular class.
Principles for Writing Effective Learning Outcomes
Writing effective learning outcomes requires precision and specificity. When writing learning objectives, it is important to use action verbs that describe measurable behavior. Additionally, instructors should aim for clarity and brevity in their statements.
The Importance of Clear Language and Specificity in Learning Outcomes
Clear and precise language is essential to writing effective learning outcomes. Learning objectives should be direct, actionable statements that can easily be understood by learners. Additionally, they should use specific words that describe measurable behavior or performance. For instance, rather than using a general statement such as “students will recognize the importance of critical thinking” an instructor might write “students will be able to identify and analyze the key elements of an argument.”
Active Verbs and Associated Verbs: Their Role in Writing Learning Outcomes
When writing learning outcomes, instructors should use active verbs that refer to specific actions or behaviors. Action verbs provide a measure of clarity and direction for learners and assessors alike. A few examples of commonly used action verbs include analyze, explain, illustrate, discuss, develop, compare, and demonstrate.
It is also important to use associated verbs when writing student learning outcomes. These verbs are used to describe how students should be able to use and apply the knowledge they have acquired. A few examples of associated verbs include explain, interpret, estimate, discuss, and identify.
The Cognitive Domain: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Learning Outcomes
Educators may find it useful to use Bloom’s Taxonomy when writing student learning outcomes. This framework provides a set of action verbs that describe different levels of cognitive thinking. There are six levels: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
Each level contains a set of associated verbs that can be used to create effective learning objectives. For instance, a learning outcome that requires students to remember information would use the verb “recall” while one that requires them to evaluate data would use the verb “assess.”
Observable Actions: Translating Learning Outcomes into Assessable Behaviours
In order for learning outcomes to be meaningful, they must be translated into observable actions. This means that instructors should ensure that their objectives are framed in a way that can easily be assessed. For example, instead of writing “students will understand the concept of critical thinking” an instructor might write “students will be able to identify and explain key elements of an argument.” This provides a clear indication of the expected performance and allows for meaningful assessment.
Practical Guide to Crafting Learning Outcomes
Identifying and Describing Expected Knowledge, Skills, and Understanding
The first step in crafting learning outcomes is to identify and describe the expected knowledge, skills, and understanding that students should obtain by the end of the course. This can include concepts, theories, processes, methods, facts, or other related topics.
It is important to use language that is precise and actionable when writing learning objectives. For instance, an instructor might write “students will be able to identify the key features of a bar graph.” This statement is specific and measurable, making it easier to assess student performance.
Creating Learning Outcomes that Align with Course Objectives
It is essential to ensure that learning outcomes align with course objectives. This ensures that students are able to focus their efforts on tasks and activities that will help them reach the expected performance. Additionally, it helps instructors better evaluate student progress throughout the course.
Writing Learning Outcomes: Using Action Verbs to Demonstrate Learning
When writing learning objectives, it is important to use action verbs that are aligned with the expected performance. For instance, when writing a learning objective for a history course, an instructor might use the verb “discuss” instead of “understand.” This provides a clear indication of what is expected from students and allows instructors to properly measure their progress.
Case Study: Examples of Well-Written Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes should be tailored to the content and activities of a particular course. A few examples of well-written learning objectives include:
• Students will be able to identify and explain key elements of an argument.
• Students will be able to analyze quantitative data using appropriate methods.
• Students will be able to describe the features of a bar graph.
• Students will be able to discuss the impact of globalization on international trade.
Assessment Planning and Institutional Effectiveness
How Learning Outcomes Inform Assessment and Evaluation Practices
Well-defined learning outcomes provide a framework for assessing student performance. They help instructors measure the effectiveness of their teaching and identify areas where students may need additional guidance or assistance. Additionally, they can be used in institutional evaluations to determine if the curriculum is aligned with educational goals and objectives.
Direct Measures and Indirect Measures: Assessing Student Learning Outcomes
When assessing student learning outcomes, instructors can use a variety of direct and indirect measures. Direct measures assess the performance or behavior of students and include activities such as exams, essays, presentations, and projects. Indirect measures measure the impact of student learning on other areas and can include reflective discussions, surveys, journals, portfolios, and peer reviews.
The Role of Learning Outcomes in Promoting Institutional Effectiveness
Learning outcomes play a crucial role in promoting institutional effectiveness. They help instructors create meaningful learning experiences that are aligned with the educational goals of the institution. Additionally, they provide a framework for assessing student performance and evaluating curriculum development efforts. Ultimately, well-thought-out learning objectives can help institutions achieve their overall mission of providing high quality education to their students.
Student Learning Outcomes: Beyond the Classroom
Learning Outcomes in the Context of Academic Programs and Professional Goals
The concept of learning outcomes is not limited to the classroom. It can be applied in the context of academic programs, career goals, and professional development. For instance, a student might set a learning outcome for an internship that requires them to “demonstrate proficiency in data analysis techniques” or a program might have an objective that states “students will be able to identify and explain key elements of project management.”
How Learning Outcomes Aid in Student Comprehension and Success
Well-crafted learning outcomes provide a clear indication of the expected performance for students. They help guide them in their studies, improve their comprehension of course material, and promote their overall success. Additionally, they can be used to assess student progress and measure the effectiveness of instructional strategies.
In conclusion, writing effective learning outcomes is an important part of successful education. By utilizing precise language, action verbs, and specific methods, instructors can create outcomes that are aligned with course objectives, promote student comprehension, and facilitate meaningful assessment.
The Role of Learning Outcomes in Preparing Graduates for the Job Market
Learning outcomes can also help prepare students for the job market. They provide employers with a clear indication of what a student has learned and achieved during their course of study, helping them to make more informed hiring decisions. Additionally, they can be used in professional development plans to ensure that employees are able to maintain their skills and stay up-to-date on current trends in their field.
Overall, well-written learning outcomes are essential for promoting student success and enhancing the overall educational experience. They provide a clear indication of expectations, promote comprehension of course material, and facilitate meaningful assessment practices. Additionally, they provide employers with valuable insights into what students have learned during their program of study and help graduates to better prepare for the job market.
Reflecting on the Importance of Learning Outcomes in Higher Education
To conclude, learning outcomes play an essential role in higher education. They provide a clear indication of the expected performance for students and help instructors measure their progress throughout the course. Additionally, they can be used to assess student learning in other contexts such as academic programs and professional development plans. Ultimately, well-crafted learning objectives are critical for driving student success and promoting institutional effectiveness
Encouraging Ongoing Practice of Writing Effective Learning Outcomes
Writing effective learning outcomes is an ongoing practice that requires careful consideration and attention to detail. It can be a challenging task, requiring instructors to use precise language, action verbs, and specific methods in order for their objectives to be clear and measurable. To support instructors in this effort, there are numerous resources available online which provide guidance on how to craft meaningful learning outcomes. Additionally, many organizations provide professional development workshops that can help educators enhance their instructional strategies and promote student success.
By utilizing the tips and examples provided in this article, instructors can effectively align learning outcomes with course objectives and drive meaningful assessment practices. Ultimately, by encouraging ongoing practice of writing effective learning outcomes, students will be better equipped to achieve their educational goals and institutions will be able
References / Further Reading
1. Learning Outcomes: What they are and why they matter. (2020, June 7). Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/learning/what-are-learning-outcomes-examples/.
2. Writing Effective Learning Objectives – Principles & Practices for Writing Better Learning Objectives & Assessments . (2017, October 3). Retrieved from https://www.lc.edu/academics/faculty-resources/writing-learning-objectives/.
3. Writing Measurable Learning Objectives – Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS). (2017, May 2). Retrieved from http://www.cas.edu/docs/white-papers/writing-measurable-learning-objectives.pdf.
4. Hunt, N., & Wehmeyer, M. (2000). Outcome based education: Essential components of effective instruction for students with disabilities and other special learners. National Association of State Directors of Special Education . Retrieved from
5. Maloney, C., & Murray, J. (2019, April 1). Writing learning outcomes that drive student success . Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/writing-learning-outcomes-that-drive-student-success/
6. Writing Learning Outcomes – Professional Development Series. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/profdevseries7.html.
7. Learning outcomes: Aligning teaching and assessment. (2019, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/learning-outcomes-aligning-teaching-and-assessment/.
8. Why learning outcomes matter in higher education . (n.d.). Retrieved from https://eab.com/daily-briefing/2019/09/05/why-learning-outcomes-matter-in-higher-education/.
9. Learning outcomes: Tools for clearer curriculum design . (2018, November 27). Retrieved from https://www.facultydiversity.org/resources/detail/learning-outcomes-tools-for-clearer-curriculum-design.
10. The importance of learning outcomes in higher education . (2019, July 2). Retrieved from https://edlounge.com/the-importance-of-learning-outcomes-in-higher-education/.
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22. Writing learning objectives: Performance objectives. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/profdevseries7c3-sldocs81101abtwritinglearningobjectivesperformanceobjectives.html.
23. Choosing verbs for student learning outcomes . (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/profdevseries7c3-sldocs81101abtchosingverbsforstudentlearningoutcomes.html.
24. Assessment resource center: Writing measurable learning outcomes . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://arc.losrios.edu/writing-measurable-learning-outcomes/.
25. Writing learning objectives using Bloom’s taxonomy . (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/profdevseries7c3-sldocs81101abtwritinglearningobjectivesusingbloomstaxonomy.html.