Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes, or objectives, are concise statements that describe what students will know, and be able to do with that knowledge, at the completion of an activity, assignment, or course.

Learning Outcomes

Consider the following when drafting learning outcomes:

  • Learning outcomes describe learning that is observable in the form of behavior or expression of thoughts. Determine what evidence or indicators will show you that learning has occurred. In other words, how will you know? 
  • Use specific action verbs to describe the desired behaviors, knowledge, skills, and values the learning experience is intended to impart. Refer to Bloom's Taxonomy and Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning on page 9 of the Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses.
  • Describe behaviors that are measurable. Avoid using verbs that are vague and difficult to measure (e.g. “understand” and “know”).
  • Use language that is clear and free of jargon so that both novice and expert students will understand what is expected. 
  • Set learning outcomes that are appropriate for your audience in terms of identity, prior knowledge, and course level.
  • Link course learning outcomes directly to the activities and assessments of the course. 
  • Share learning outcomes in a prominent and easily identifiable location such as your syllabus or Canvas home page.


The following are examples of learning outcomes from a variety of disciplines and courses. Think of these statements as completing the sentence, “At the end of this learning experience, students will be able to…”

Apply sociological theories and concepts to the analysis of real-world issues.

Debate the effectiveness of New Deal programs using evidence from primary sources.

Critically evaluate the scientific evidence regarding human-caused climate change.

Identify morphological units of the Spanish language.

Describe the distinctive character of Catholicism among other religious traditions and its similarities to them.

Each of the examples above includes a specific action verb (apply, debate, evaluate, identify, describe) to describe the cognitive behavior that students are expected to exhibit. Each of these behaviors could be observable in a variety of ways, including through class discussion, interactive activities, or written work, in which students could demonstrate their learning. The behaviors described are also measurable. It is possible to imagine the criteria to describe how well a student performed each of these behaviors and measure student success against those criteria.

Additional Resources