Writing Student Learning Outcomes

Outcomes - Detailed, specific, measurable or identifiable, and personally meaningful statements that are derived from the goals and articulate what the end result of a unit, program, course, activity, or process is.

Outcomes should be:

Learning Outcomes An easily identified action that a student is expected to demonstrate in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes upon completion of a program/course.

When writing your learning outcomes, focus on the end result of your teaching. How will you know that the students have learned what you want from them? What does it look like? How will you identify it? Use simple, specific action verbs to describe what students are expected to demonstrate upon completion of a program. Examples include:

Students will be able to {action verbs to describe knowledge, skills, or attitude} 1

Action verbs - Concrete verbs such as "define," "apply," or "analyze" are more helpful for assessment than verbs such as "be exposed to," "understand," "know," or "be familiar with." 2

Cognitive Learning
Knowledge - to recall or remember facts without necessarily understanding them articulate, define, indicate, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, reproduce, list, tell, describe, identify, show, label, tabulate, quote
Comprehensive - to understand and interpret learned information classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, interpret, contrast, associate, differentiate, extend, translate, review, suggest, restate
Application - to put ideas and concepts to work in solving problems apply, compute, give examples, investigate, experiment, solve, choose, predict, translate, employ, operate, practice, schedule
Analysis - to break information into its components to see interrelationships analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, distinguish, examine, investigate, interpret
Synthesis - to use creativity to compose and design something original arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up
Evaluation - to judge the value of information based on established criteria appraise, assess, defend, judge, predict, rate, support, evaluate, recommend, convince, conclude, compare, summarize
Affective Learning
appreciate, accept, attempt, challenge, defend, dispute, join, judge, praise, question, share, support


Learning Outcome Examples

Learning Outcome - Graduates will be able to collect and organize appropriate clinical data, apply principles of evidence-based medicine to determine clinical diagnoses, and formulate and implement acceptable treatment modalities.

Learning Outcome - Graduates will be able to identify various aspects of architectural diversity in their design projects.

Learning Outcome - Graduates will be able to critically analyze and evaluate current research.


1. Adapted from: Bresciani, M.J., Zelna, C.L., and Anderson, J.A. (2002) Assessing student learning and development: A handbook for practitioners. NASPA, Washington D.C.

2. Adapted from: Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook 1, cognitive domain. New York; Toronto; Longmans, Green.