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What are learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes are statements that describe the learning that students can demonstrate at the end of a course, program, or class.
Structure of a Learning Outcome:
- an action work that identifies the performance to be demonstrated
- a learning statement that specifies what learning will be demonstrated in the performance
- a broad statement of criterion or standard for acceptable performance
ABCD (audience, behavior, condition, and degree) method:
- Audience: Who is the target audience? (e.g., "FYS students will be able to")
- Behavior: What is the work to be accomplished by the learner? (e.g., "distinguish")
- Should be both observable and measurable behaviors
- Should refer to action verbs that describe behaviors
- avoid verbs such as know, understand, learn, believe, know
- Condition: What are the conditions/constraints in which the learners will be expected to perform these tasks? (e.g., "at the end of the class")
- Degree: How will the behavior need to be performed (e.g., "between primary and secondary sources")
- example: At the end of the course, FYS students will be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources
Action phrase + in order to + action phrase
•Example: FYS students will be able to craft search strategies in order to find one relevant article from a peer-reviewed journal.
Characteristics of Strong Learning Outcomes
Student learning outcomes (SLOs) statements should:
- specify the level, criterion, or standard for the knowledge, skill, ability or disposition that the student must demonstrate
- include conditions under which they should be able to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, abilities, or dispositions
- contain active verbs (see Bloom's taxonomy)
- be measurable
- be stated so that they can be measured by more than one assessment methods
- not join elements that need to be assessed by separate methods
Learning Outcome Checklist
- Are the outcomes specific?
- Are the outcomes simply stated?
- Are the outcomes written using action verbs to specify observable behavior?
- Do they use vague or unclear language, such as "understand" or "comprehend"?
- Do the outcomes clearly describe and define the expected abilities, knowledge, and values of learners?
- Are learners at the center of the outcome, or does it focus on the teacher behaviors?
- Is it possible to collect accurate and measurable data for each outcome?
- If not, can it be re-written?
- Is it possible to use a single method to measure each outcome?
- Can the outcomes be used to identify areas for improvement?
Additional Resources on Writing Learning Outcomes
Excerpt from the University of Connecticut's Assessment Primer: Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes (2013)
How to Write Outcomes
Excerpt from the University of Connecticut's "Assessment Primer: Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes"