Action Words: Keys to Higher Thinking

Action Words: Keys to Higher Thinking and Articulating Course Outcomes. Use these to write course outcomes and course objectives.


If you want students to do…or assess

Use they key words


Recall (Knowledge)

Define, identify, label, repeat, recall, recognize, list, name, what, when, who, reproduce, order

List the names of the main characters in the story.

Define iambic pentameter.

State Newton's Laws of Motions.

Comprehend (understanding)

*Translate (translation)

Explain, draw, give in your own words, illustrate, rearrange, reorder, restate, transfer, translate

Put these definitions in your on words.

*Interpret (Interpretation)

If/then, compare, contrast, differentiate, distinguish, classify, describe, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, summarize

? Compare themes of these two stories.

? Summarize the main ideas of…

Apply / solve (Application)

If-how, develop, employ, relate, restructure, use, what if, apply, if-then, test, solve, illustrate, and compose examples of…

? If I wanted to make a character more believable, how might I do it?

? Scan a poem for metric foot and meter scheme.

? Describe an experiment to test the influence of light and light quality in the Hill reaction of photosynthesis.

Analyze (analysis, autonomous reasoning and inquiry)

Deduce, predict, infer compare/contrast, detect, predict, if-then, analyze appraise, categorize, differentiate, discriminate, question, test

? List and analyze arguments for and against gun control.

Synthesize (synthesis, creation)

Combine, constitute, derive, document, formulate, modify, organize, originate, produce synthesize, write, make up, what/if, develop, arrange, propose, set-up

? Develop a new way to conduct this experiment.

? Construct a helium-near laser.

? Compose a logical argument on assisted suicide with well-selected evidence drawn from a variety of related sources.

Evaluate/judge (evaluation)

Apprise, argue, assess, decide, evaluate, judge, standardize, evaluate, why, support, rate, and defend.

? Evaluate this story.  Is it well written? Why? Why not?

? Propose defensible stock market investments based on company performance and projected value.

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