Developing Course Learning Outcomes

Module Lesson Plan and Supporting Materials
Lesson Plan – Developing Quality Program Learning Outcomes (DOCX)
Bloom’s Taxonomy 1 (DOCX)
Bloom’s Taxonomy 2 (PDF)
Bloom’s Taxonomy 3 (PDF)
Rubric for Evaluating CLOs (DOCX)
Feedback Survey (DOCX)
Work Session Evaluation Report Template (DOCX)

What are Course Learning Outcomes?

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) are meaningful, observable, measurable, specific statements that clearly describe what students will be able to demonstrate that they know (content knowledge), are able to do (skills) and/or the value (attitudes) they will have when they have completed a course.

Why have Course Learning Outcomes?

When Learning Outcomes are understood by students, they

  • know what is expected of them (Beasley, 2012)
  • focus better on their studies (Wood, 2003, 2004)
  • probe more deeply into their learning (Biggs, 1999)
  • remember more content (Halpern & Hakel, 2003)
  • know how their learning will be evaluated (Beasley, 2012)
  • are able to apply their learning better (Halpern & Hakel, 2003)

How to articulate Course Learning Outcomes that promote student success?

There is no precise formula for writing outcome statements, but here are some guidelines. CLOs should:

  • Describe the most important knowledge, skills, and values relevant to your course.
  • Be stated in simple language, following this general format:
    • Students will be able to [action verb] + [something].
  • Use action verbs that result in overt behavior that can be observed and measured:
    • Bloom’s Taxonomy is a useful classification of learning objectives and represents the process of learning. The examples of active verbs provided along the continuum emphasize what a learner “can do”.
  • Clarifies what students will gain from your course in a way that can be assessed, either quantitatively or qualitatively.
  • Be observable and measurable.
  • Be rigorous but attainable outcomes.

Where to turn to for ideas?

  • Department mission and values
  • Department Goals
  • Disciplinary associations
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Faculty interest, commitments, and expertise
  • Employer feedback
  • Alumni feedback
  • Peer institutions’ websites
  • The CBC Method
  • The ABCD Method

Additional Resources:

Suskie, L. (2009). Developing Learning Goals. In Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide (2nd edition) (pp. 115-134). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gonzaga University CTA Website. 

NILOA’s Transparency Framework for Providing Evidence of Student Learning