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Identify Course Learning Outcomes

What are student learning outcomes?

Student learning outcomes are goals that describe how a student will be different because of a learning experience. More specifically, learning outcomes are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students take with them from a learning experience (Suskie, 2009).

Why create course-level student learning outcomes?

What makes for good course-level student learning outcomes?

In order to have any of the benefits described above, student learning outcomes must:

  • Describe what students should know and be able to do at the end of the course.
  • Specify an action that faculty can both observe and measure.
  • Be limited to between three to six per course.

How do I write good course-level student learning outcomes?

  • If you have already been teaching the course, you already have an idea of what you want students to know and do; this process is just articulating your outcomes more explicitly. Therefore, the best place to start is by looking at what you require from students in your course content, assignments and exams.
  • If you are designing a new course, time to brainstorm. Think about what you want students to be able to know and do and how they will demonstrate that they have achieved that learning. To get inspiration, think about how you learned the material, talk to other faculty, or review similar course syllabi online.
  • Either way, think about the actions you're asking student to do to demonstrate their learning. What level of thinking are you requiring? Then choose a verb that matches that level of thinking. Check out a revised version of Bloom's taxonomy, "Spit, Synthesize, and Speculate", to help with this matching process.
    • "Spit": Students must remember or recall concepts you have taught them.
    • "Synthesize": Students must not only remember concepts, but place them within a larger context.
    • "Speculate": Students must generate new knowledge based on the individual concepts and larger context.

"Spit" Verbs

"Synthesize" Verbs

"Speculate" Verbs

  • Define
  • Identify
  • Match
  • Name
  • Recall
  • Recognize
  • State
  • Describe
  • Analyze
  • Discuss
  • Distinguish
  • Compare
  • Explain
  • Apply
  • Classify
  • Illustrate
  • Plan
  • Design
  • Generate
  • Compose
  • Propose
  • Transform
  • Critique
  • Create

Want examples of good course-level student learning outcomes? Visit the Sample Tools page.

Continue to Map Assignments to Outcomes

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