Resources on Writing Student Learning Outcomes

According to Linda Suskie (2004) learning outcomes "are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind that students take with them from a learning experience."  Developing these outcomes may seem overwhelming and quite challenging.  In order to begin assessing student learning, it is necessary to understand what will be assessed.  Outcomes will drive the methods/tools used in assessment.  Developing sound student learning outcomes is key in this process.  The following resources may help in the development of student learning outcomes.

 Linda Suskie (2004) in Assessing Student Learning offers the following suggestions when crafting student learning outcomes:

  • Aim for goals that are neither too broad nor too specific
  • Use concrete action words (Examples from Kansas State University )
  • Define fuzzy terms (examples-appreciate a viewpoint, write well/proficienty, think critically)
  • Focus on what students should be able to do following the course or program, not those they do while in the course or program.
  • Focus on your most important goals
  • Work with colleagues

Following Bloom's (1956) Taxonomy, Weber State University offers key words for each category (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) in crafting outcomes.

Institutional webpages on writing student learning outcomes:

Laney College , Oakland, CA

Kansas State University , Manhattan, KS

Examples of effective student learning outcomes:

  • Biology: Make appropriate inferences and deductions from biological information (Suskie, 2004).
  • Business: Develop graphic, spreadsheet, and financial analysis support for positions taken (Suskie, 2004).
  • Social Sciences: Use an appropriate analytical frame to predict the impact of policy proposals on social welfare (University of Virginia, Institutional Assessment and Studies)
  • Sciences: Students demonstrate understanding of fundamental concepts of chemistry by definition, explanation, and use of these ideas in examinations and labratory exercises (University of Virginia, Institutional Assessment and Studies).
  • Fine Arts:Upon graduation majors will have the ability to design and carry out an ethnographic research project with a focus on music performance or musical experience (University of Virginia, Institutional Assessment and Studies).
  • Women's Studies: Use gender as an analytical category to critique cultural and social institutions (Suskie, 2004).

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