Writing Learning Outcomes

Characteristices of SMART learning outcomes

S specific
M measurable
A acceptable
R realistic
T time bound


Characteristics of strong learning outcomes:

  • The specified action by the learners must be observable
  • The specified action by the learners must be measurable (to some extent)
  • The specified action must be performed by the learners

Results of developing and using strong learning outcomes:

  • Serve as a focal point from which a course unfolds
  • Clarify the intent of instruction and guide the formation of instructional activities
  • Provide a point of reference to assess effectiveness of teaching and learning experiences
  • Decrease uncertainty for students regarding what is expected of them, which usually leads to better performance

Departments and faculties differ in content but the process of creating learning outcomes has common goals:

  • Increased expertise within a domain or across domains (e.g., history – political science)
    • Development of expert ways of thinking
  • Habits of mind and practices that lead to further learning in a domain (e.g. science)
  • Evidence of learning across various evaluations
    • Exams, projects, in-class discussion, assignments, group work 

Using Blooms Taxonomy to develop strong learning outcomes:

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