Crafting Learning Outcomes

target imageStart With The End in Mind

Learning outcomes are also referred to as learning goalsperformance outcomes, or learning objectives. All of these describe what learners will be able to do upon completion of a course or instructional unit and serve as a guide for your instructional choices. Visit DePaul’s Teaching Commons resource for a course objectives & learning outcomes deeper dive. Your program may also address competencies, which are broader than learning outcomes. A competency may have several specific learning outcomes, so a course may have more learning outcomes than competencies. Let’s look at a sample learning outcome:

“By the end of this lesson, students will be able to outline various stages of design thinking.”

Outline is the action verb in this outcome: it provides a clear measurement of mastery. Examples could be define, evaluate, create, or illustrate. The key — and the hardest part of writing good outcomes — is to use verbs that are measurable. You can’t measure a student’s understanding of content, but you can measure their ability to recall, locate, or recognize. Bloom’s Taxonomy is our ever-enduring resource for this task. The taxonomy levels are like stair steps: each cognitive level represents a move from a lower-order thinking skill to a higher-order one. 

This example outcome relates to the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but Bloom’s also includes performance standards related to the psychomotor and affective domains. Cognitive learning outcomes aim to achieve a general understanding of concepts and processes. Psychomotor learning outcomes aim to determine if a learner can accurately complete a task or demonstrate a skills. An Affective learning outcome is designed to influence attitudes and outlooks. If your course has goals that can be measured on these scales, download the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy All Domains from Arizona State’s asset library as a great resource with examples to guide you.

Alignment refers to critical course elements working together to ensure that students achieve the desired learning outcomes. Module learning outcomes align with and support the course outcomes. Instructional materials, formative activities, and technology tools should align with the learning outcomes and support appropriate summative assessments. The image below provides the scale from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills, the selection of the action verb should provide the appropriate amount of rigor for the course level.

Bloom's taxonomy scale - remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create

Writing Course Outcomes

The Quality Maters High Education rubric provides clear guidance on writing course competencies/outcomes.

  1. Course learning competencies describe outcomes that are measurable.
  2. Learning outcomes or competencies are stated clearly, are written from the learner’s perspective, and are prominently located in the course.
  3. The learning outcomes or competencies are suited to the level of the course.

Course competencies typically describe broad aspects of behavior which incorporate a wide range of knowledge and skill.


  • Upon completion of this course the student will have reliably demonstrated the ability to use the conventions of grammar when creating paragraphs.
  • After successfully completing the course, the learner will be able to create basic cascading style sheets to control the presentation of a web page or web site.
Writing Module Outcomes

The Quality Matters Higher Education rubric provides clear guidance on writing module learning outcomes.

  1. The module/unit-level learning outcomes describe outcomes that are measurable and consistent with the course-level outcomes or competencies.
  2. The relationship between learning outcomes and learning activities is clearly stated.
  3. The learning outcomes are stated clearing within each module and the alignment to course outcomes is clear to the learner.

Module learning outcomes tend to describe specific, discrete units of knowledge and skill that can be accomplished within a short timeframe.


  • The learner will be able to explain the relationship among elements, attributes, and values.
  • Given a paragraph of ten sentences, the student will be able to identify ten rules of grammar that are used in its construction.

Guides & Tools

You can review the approved course level outcomes for your course in the Curriculum Management database, CIM. Log in with your Miami unique ID and search your course number. Open the course form and scroll to the bottom to find the approved Learning Outcomes.

Here are some other guides and tools to help create module level outcomes that align with your course level outcomes.

  1. Bloom’s Taxonomy resource from Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning
  2. Learning Outcomes Guide from Davenport University
  3. Course Objectives & Learning Outcomes from DePaul Teaching Commons
  4. Learning Outcome Generator from Northwest Missouri State University
  5. Objective Builder Tool from University of Central Florida