Articulating Course Outcomes

What Are Outcomes?

  • A kind of goal, but generally more specific, referring to a single and discreetly measurable expected result of instruction.
  • It is a major skill, knowledge, attitude or ability that can be measured and expected as a result of instruction. Outcomes describe what you want learners to be able to do. They drive how you select teaching strategies and they dictate when and what you will test or assess.
  • They are more general than an objective.
  • A course will usually have between 4 and 10 major outcomes.
  • They should be agreed upon by the faculty in a program and should drive program outcomes.
  • These outcomes should be the same across courses with the same title and number.
  • See examples of outcomes in A Syllabus Template.

How do you write Learning Outcomes for Courses?

  1. Begin with an action verb (e.g., write, install, solve, and apply). (See "Action Words")
  2. State the outcome in terms of student performance. For example,
    • Create a career development plan.
    • Use spreadsheet software.State the outcome at a level of generality that clearly indicates the expected learning and is readily definable by specific types of student behavior.


For a World History course:

  1. Order series of events in human history by applying knowledge of chronology.
  2. Identify major themes of historical change: changes in forms of transportation, forms from agrarian to pre-industrial economies, or changes in forms of migration.
  3. Use historical inquiry to interpret events, issues, development, relationships and perspectives of history.
  4. Use evidence from primary and secondary sources to understand and describe events, issues, developments, relationships and perspectives.

For a Medical Assisting course:

Each student will perform 8 critical competencies for the instructor with 90% including:

  1. sterile scrub
  2. sterile gloving
  3. setting up a sterile field and adding instruments to the field
  4. setting up and running and EKG
  5. performing an ear irrigation
  6. administering oral medications
  7. performing injections, Sub-Q, intra-dermal, and intramuscular
  8. performing correct dosage calculation.


(Answer: Yes! Each of these are course outcomes appropriate to the program and discipline.)

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