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Lesson 3: Guidelines for Writing Student Learning Outcomes

There are three basic elements to an outcome.

  1. A verb that describes an observable action of what the learner should be able to do or know as a result of learning. The words "will" or "will be able to" often precede the verb. Examples:
    1. "The learner will demonstrate..."
    2. "The learner will determine..."
    3. "The learner will be able to perform..."

    Use verbs that are easy to interpret and understand, such as list, demonstrate, define, identify, and compare versus words, such as understand, know, and appreciate, which can have many interpretations.

  2. The conditions under which this action (verb) takes place. It may include the place, time or "by when" the student is expected to acquire the learning.


    1. "Given a list of terms..."
    2. "Upon completion of chapter 1..."
    3. "Given a list of definitions..."
    4. "Without the aid of references..."
    5. "With the aid of a calculator..."
    6. "When given two events..."
    7. "Upon completion of the course..."
  3. The level of acceptable performance, standard or criteria used to evaluate the learning, or the way in which the behavior will be measured. To derive the criteria, ask where the student will use the learning and what will be the standards of adequate performance applied at that time.


    1. "...correctly demonstrate all steps of CPR."
    2. "...type forty words per minute with 65% accuracy."
    3. "...explain to a patient the rationale for incentive therapy such that the patient performs with only two mistakes/questions."
    4. "...according to (a book, list, etc.)."
    5. "...within (so many tries or so much time)."
    6. "...adheres to the LCC grading scale."
    7. "...adheres to the Health Careers grading scale."

Lessons: Index, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, References

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