Learning Objectives

Critical thinking is the process thinking about information and knowledge that questions assumptions. Effective critical thinking shows students how to question whether something is true or false, but it is important for instructors to teach students how to think effectively and critically. Articles about critical thinking and cognitive-load theory can be found in the Additional Articles section.

Learning Outcomes

When you start designing a course or an assignment for your students, it is important to answer the question “What do you want to student to learn after completing the course/assignment/class session/etc.?” This will allow you to start to write your learning outcomes for your students. Learning outcomes are not a list of topics to be covered in the course – these are learning objectives.

  • Learning outcomes are:
    • Brief descriptions of things learners are able to do once they complete a course or assignment that they were not able to do before
    • Clearly stated declaratory sentences that use action verbs to describe what the student can do
    • Focus on student’s intellectual growth and skills
    • Support the overarching goals of the course
    • Align with the institution’s curriculum and co-curriculum outcomes
    • Incorporate or adapt professional organizations’ standards
    • Helps the instructor plan assessments, activities, and materials to use in the course
    • Allows the instructor to better focus teaching and motivate students

Writing Learning Outcomes

  • Begin by brainstorming a list of things you would like students to do
  • Design measures (assignments/assessments) that will allow students to demonstrate they have accomplished this
    • These skills or knowledge should be overt, directly observable, and measurable
    • You can use something such as Bloom’s Taxonomy to identify verbs to describe student learning
      • Knowledge/Remembering: define, list, recognize
      • Comprehension/Understanding: characterize, describe, explain, identify, locate, recognize, sort
      • Application/Applying: choose, demonstrate, implement, perform
      • Analysis/Analyzing: analyze, categorize, compare, differentiate
      • Evaluation/Evaluating: assess, critique, evaluate, rank, rate
      • Synthesis/Creating: construct, design, formulate, organize, synthesize
    • List of Action Verbs with Examples
  • To start designing the outcomes, begin by writing a description of a performance – what the learner is able to do
    • Begin your learning outcome with “The student will be able to…”
  • Next write about conditions – important conditions under which the performance will occur
  • Finally, the criterion or standard – the quality or level of performance that will be considered acceptable
    • Understand
    • Appreciate
    • Know about
    • Become familiar with
    • Learn about

  1. http://depts.washington.edu/eproject/objectives.htm
  2. http://ctl.iupui.edu/Resources/Planning-the-Learning-Experience/Writing-Student-Learning-Outcomes
  3. http://tll.mit.edu/help/intended-learning-outcomes
  4. http://ctl.byu.edu/collections/developing-learning-outcomes
  5. http://depts.washington.edu/eproject/objectives.htm
  6. http://www.library.illinois.edu/infolit/learningoutcomes.html
  7. http://www.library.illinois.edu/infolit/learningoutcomes.html