Writing modules learning outcomes
The module is defined by its learning outcomes, which should be a clear statement of what a student must know or be able to do in order to pass the module. Learning outcomes should be set at an appropriate level and consideration should be given to ensure that they align with the aims of the module and with its teaching and learning strategy. There should be no more than 10 learning outcomes for a module.
The learning outcomes should be categorised into:
- Knowledge and Understanding
- Subject specific skills
- Key Skills
The structure of learning outcomes
A learning outcome statement has two essential component parts:
- a verb that indicates what the learner will be able to do to demonstrate their learning
- an object, ie word(s) indicating what the learner is acting on/with
A third part, an indicator provides evidence that the outcome has been achieved is also needed.
Selection of an appropriate verb.
The most important step in formulating learning outcomes is the selection of the appropriate verb. It should express
precisely what students are expected to be able to do, and by implication this must be observable and thus assessable. Verbs such as 'appreciate', 'comprehend' and 'grasp' are generally too broad, imprecise and hard to assess for learning outcome statements.
The Welsh Higher Education Credit Consortium has produced a list of vocabulary to help with writing learning outcome statements. The words are organised under Bloom's taxonomy. There are other sources too.
Activities giving evidence of knowing
Define, describe, identify, label, list, name, outline, reproduce, recall, select, state, present, be aware of, extract, organise, recount, write, recognise, measure, underline, repeat, relate, know, match
Activities giving evidence of comprehension:
Interpret, translate, estimate, justify, comprehend, convert, clarify, defend, distinguish, estimate, explain, extend, generalise, exemplify, give examples of, infer, paraphrase, predict, rewrite, summarise, discuss, perform, report, present, restate, identify, illustrate, indicate, find, select, understand, represent, name, formulate, judge, contrast, translate, classify, express, compare.
Activities giving evidence of analysis:
Recognise, distinguish between, evaluate, analyse, break down, differentiate, identify, illustrate how, infer, outline, point out, relate, select, separate, divide, subdivide, compare, contrast, justify, resolve, devote, examine, conclude, criticise, question, diagnose, categorise, point out, elucidate.
Activities giving evidence of synthesis:
Propose, present, structure, integrate, formulate, teach, develop, combine, compile, compose, create, devise, design, explain, generate, modify, organise, plan, re-arrange, reconstruct, relate, re-organise, revise, write, summarise, tell, account for, restate, report, alter, argue, order, select, manage, generalise, precise, derive, conclude, build up, engender, synthesise, put together, suggest, enlarge.
Activities giving evidence of evaluation:
Judge, appraise, assess, conclude, compare, contrast, describe how, criticise, discriminate, justify, defend, evaluate, rate, determine, choose, value, question.
- Evaluate key concepts with respect to social class, 'race' and ethnicity, and gender with respect to carrying out ethical research in the area of equal opportunities and equality issues
- Know the range of maps, documents and other resources to consult, and how to locate them, in order to pursue an investigation
- Research in depth and offer a focussed presentation on the work of a Hollywood author, a Hollywood star, or a genre prevalent in Hollywood cinema.
- Outline a small-scale research project on a scale appropriate to an undergraduate dissertation.
- Appraise the development of contested historical opinions, using knowledge of other historical controversies as a point of comparison.
- Perform an assessment of an individual's nutritional status using an agreed schedule and format
- formulate biological theories from underlying principles to explain neurological phenomena (e.g. how children learn to talk)
- Reflect on personal performance in relation to negotiated aims and objectives
- Work within budget, timescale, technical and legal requirements for the planning and undertaking of an event;
Learning outcomes key skills
The University Modular has an explicitly enunciated 'Skills agenda' which ensures that skills are properly considered, embedded within module delivery, and fore grounded within learning outcomes.