Course Learning OUTCOMES

Course Learning Outcomes are specific and measurable statements that define the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learners will demonstrate by the completion of a course. Learning Outcomes are written with a verb phrase and declare a demonstrable action within a given time frame, such as by the end of the course. Ideally, they should be observable, measurable, and achievable within a specified time period. For some, this definition describes what they have already understood to be Learning Objectives. Read more about Learning Outcomes vs Learning Objectives.

Writing an effective learning outcome that is measurable involves the structuring of two parts, a verb and an object. The verb phrase describes the intended cognitive process or what the learner is intended to do, and the object phrase describes the knowledge students are expected to acquire or construct (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).


Cognitive Process

Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create



Factual, Conceptual, Procedural, Metacognitive

Bloom's revised taxonomy provides a framework for transforming competencies into essential learning outcomes or intended results. The revised taxonomy organizes these verbs or cognitive processes on a scale of lower-order to higher-order thinking skills. These categories define what learners should be able to do at each level of cognitive complexity. For example, having students "explain" or "discuss" a concept will demonstrate their understanding (lower-level), and having students "calculate" or "justify" will demonstrate their ability to analyze and evaluate (higher-level). Read more about Bloom's Revised Taxonomy and download a Bloom's chart.


actions that are not measurable.





be specific.

use actions that are measurable.





Note that not all actions or processes are measurable. For example, "understand" is a category label for the lower-level thinking skill of comprehension; however the verb understand itself is difficult to observe and cannot be easily measured. Learners can demonstrate understanding by their ability to define, describe, or explain. Use these kinds of observable action words in place of understand. It is often helpful to consider how you will assess the evidence of learning and how you will measure levels of mastery in order to determine the learning outcome you expect at the end of a course.


verb identifies the observable action and cognitive process.

Articulate the standards for excelling with integrity.

Explanation of the concept, procedure, or skill.

Illustration adapted from the Online Lecture Toolkit (2018).

You may strengthen your learning outcomes by including a conditional statement. The conditional statement may be necessary if learners are expected to perform under specific conditions or contexts, if learners are given specific data sets or variables to work with, expected to reach specific target, or if learners will need to draw on prior knowledge and pre-set conditions ahead of time. See examples of how to strengthen your learning outcomes below:

not measurable



Understand the significance of the Neolithic Revolution.

Explain the significance of the Neolithic Revolution.

Explain the characteristics of the Neolithic Revolution and its impact on the early civilizations.

Become familiar with  evolutionary theory about human behavior.

Evaluate the origins of evolutionary theory about human behavior.

Evaluate the evidence for various frameworks surrounding evolutionary theory about human behavior.

Understand bonding and molecular structure theories.

Use bonding and molecular structure theories.

Use bonding and molecular structure theories to predict chemical properties of elements and compounds.

Understand the derivative of a function at a point.

Interpret the derivative of a function at a point as the slope of the tangent line.

Interpret the derivative of a function at a point as the slope of the tangent line and estimate its value from the graph of a function.

Gain an appreciation for the development of art in its global context.

Make cross-cultural comparisons of historical art works from 1400-1945. 

Make cross-cultural comparisons of historical art works Europe, North America, Japan, China, Korea, and parts of Africa from 1400-1945. 




Continue using The Online Course Mapping Guide Exercise Worksheet. With your completed course competencies, fill out the Course Learning Outcomes. When you've finished, move on to the Mapping Your Course page.

Download the Exercise Worksheet


Anderson, L.W. and Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational

objectives. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Dutill, J and Wehler, M. (2018). Formulating objectives. The online lecture toolkit. Retrieved from