The learning outcomes are constructed as a taxonomy of what graduates are expected to know, understand and be able to do as a result of learning. They are expressed in terms of the dimensions of knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills.
(Australian Qualifications Framework Council, 2013, p. 11)
The Role of Learning Outcomes
This video discusses the role of learning outcomes in (online, face-to-face, and blended) course design.
A learning outcome is a statement that describes what knowledge, skills and values learners should have acquired by the end of a subject. Outcomes focus on what the students will know, do, or value when they exit the course, program or degree. Note that the focus is on the student rather than the teacher. These are not instructional objectives: they are statements describing the desired abilities of the student with respect to the discipline. Learning outcomes must be measurable, achievable and observable.
Outcomes include a verb (or action/behaviour) that describes what the student will be required to do and demonstrate to assure the outcome has been achieved (think about assessment).
Learning outcomes should NOT begin with subjective or non-measurable verbs such as “know” or “understand”. Be specific. What will the student need to demonstrate in order to be successful in the subject? Student success with outcomes should be measurable by the assessments. Clearly identifying the desired learning outcomes, corresponding activities and assessments can help both students and educators know when and how students will be successful.
Various learning taxonomies and associated verbs are commonly used to develop learning outcomes. Some of the commonly used learning taxonomies include:
- Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (revised by Anderson & Kathwohl, 2001)
- Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) Taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1982)
- Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning (Fink & Fink, 2013)
Try to use verbs across the domains of learning (e.g. cognitive, affective, psychomotor). Note: this may not be relevant depending on the context of the outcome.
This video discusses the relationships between Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, learning outcomes, and the course design process.
Further learning taxonomy and domains of learning resources
- Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs
- Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Verbs [TechThought University webpage]
- Bloom’s Taxonomy [Vanderbilt University webpage]
- How to write learning objectives using Bloom’s taxonomy
- Dee Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning
- Fink’s significant learning outcomes [The Peak Performance Centre webpage]
- Action verbs for each dimension of Fink’s model and Bloom’s taxonomy
- SOLO taxonomy [John Biggs website]
- SOLO taxonomy [The Peak Performance Centre webpage]
- Three domains of learning [The Second Principle webpage]
- How do I write cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning objectives? [Rasmussen University webpage]
PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR WRITING Learning Outcomes
Learning outcomes review checklist
This checklist may assist you to reflect, review, improve learning outcome quality, and ultimately improve teaching, learning and assessment practices. This checklist may be used by you and/or a peer reviewer.