2.2 Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are constructed as a taxonomy of what graduates are expected to knowunderstand 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.

The role of learning outcomes, Brock University, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, CC BY 4.0 (Attribution).

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.

LEARNING TAXONOMIES

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.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

This video discusses the relationships between Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, learning outcomes, and the course design process.

Bloom’s taxonomy and course design, Brock University, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation,  CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 AU.

Further learning taxonomy and domains of learning resources

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.

Learning Outcomes Review Checklist (PDF)

License

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Teaching with Technology by James Cook University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.