Why Use Learning Outcomes?

Being clearer about what we want from our students helps us to make the important decisions such as:

  • what we want them to know (knowledge and programme content)
  • how we want them to learn it (teaching and learning strategies)
  • how well they have learned it (assessment)
  • how effective the programme has been (evaluation)
Bloom’s Taxonomy Simplified 

The best known of these structured hierarchies or systems of classification is the well worn and well used one produced by Bloom and his collaborators back in 1955 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Bloom’s Taxonomy simplified

It is also worth considering elaborations of Bloom which may help when writing outcomes for different levels of an academic programme.

Figure 2: Interrelationships between Bloom’s cognitive levels

Writing Learning Outcomes

Following are useful suggestions worth considering when you are drafting your learning outcomes.

Figure 3: Suggestions & considerations when writing learning outcomes
1. Refer to University’s credit level descriptors and subject benchmarks
  • Provides the essential framework for the writing of programme and module learning outcomes
2. Think and plan strategically
  • Writing learning outcomes for particular modules is easier if they can be fitted into a systematic programme framework
3. Be clear about your priorities for your students learning
Some examples on how important are the following for student learning;

  • using evidence to support an argument
  • explaining, discussing and evaluating concepts and theory
  • communicating complex ideas in writing
  • determining the reliability of evidence – factual accuracy.
4. Ensure the outcomes are accessible
  • Shift towards an outcomes driven approach has often led to a broader range of assessment approaches being used
  • Description of the sort of evidence that will demonstrate the achievement of a learning outcome is important
  • A very close link between outcomes and assessment criteria
5. Be clear about the standards that learning outcomes describe
  • Describe the minimum requirement to pass a module thereby allowing the remaining percentage to be allocated according to the level of the student’s achievement represented by assessment criteria
6. Use accessible and accurate language (Refer Figure 1 and 4)
  • Audience for these statements won’t just be other academics; students in particular will need to understand what is expected of them
  • Keep your list of outcomes short


Figure 4: When writing learning outcomes
Avoid word like: Consider using words like:
  • know, understand
  • be familiar with
  • become acquainted with
  • have a good grasp of
  • obtain a working knowledge of
  • appreciate
  • realise the significance of
  • be aware of
  • believe
  • be interested in
  • list
  • describe
  • evaluate
  • state
  • explain
  • identify
  • distinguish
  • design
  • construct
  • solve