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Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes: An Introduction

Learning Outcomes are statements defining what a learner will be able to demonstrate, represent, or produce over time (Maki, 2004). They rely on action verbs, frequently using Bloom's taxonomy, to produce measurable statements. A learning outcome should be a single sentence that is simple and easy to understand. Workshops, courses, or programs can have multiple outcomes. Learning outcomes build on one another throughout an education landscape: session-level outcomes contribute to course or program level outcomes, which in turn contribute to the achievement of institutional level outcomes. Developing a comprehensive and holistic set of learning outcomes is an important part of defining an educational mission. 

There are three types of learning outcomes: cognitive, behavioral, or affective. 

  • Cognitive outcomes address the knowledge that will be gained. What will the learner know at the end of the session, course, or program? What will they be able to synthesize, evaluate, or define?
  • Behavioral outcomes focus on the acquisition of skills. What should a learner be able to do at the end of a learning experience? What tasks should they be able to accomplish? 
  • Affective outcomes focus on concepts that are less discrete, such as a learner's ability to appreciate, understand, or imagine. These outcomes are difficult to measure but may be appropriate for certain settings, such as a philosophical or creative experience.