Learning Outcomes

1. Introduction to Learning Outcomes

All modules and programmes should be described in terms of Learning Outcomes. Learning Outcomes are statements of what a student should know, understand and be able to demonstrate at the end of a process of learning.

Learning Outcomes are described in relation to three domains of learning, i.e. cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (practical skills) and affective (attitude and values) domains. Most Learning Outcomes in Higher Education are written in the cognitive domain, but, depending on the subject being studied, learning outcomes may also be written in the affective and psychomotor domains.

2. Writing Learning Outcomes

When writing Learning Outcomes

1: Always use action verbs. Think about completing the sentece "At the end of this module students should be able to:"

2: Keep the sentence short. More than one action verb can be used in the same sentence. 

3: Try to ensure that module Learning Outcomes range across all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy in each year of the programme.

4: Programme Learning Outcomes should map on to the appropriate level of the National Framework of Qualifications.

3. Action verbs

Some examples of action verbs are summarised in the diagram below and catergorised according to Bloom's Taxonomy.

4. Aligning Learning Outcomes and Assessments

Having written the learning outcomes always ask yourself how each learning outcome will be assessed. The Learning Outcomes we write should always to linked to teaching and learning activities and to assessment so that these various elements are aligned. This is known as constructive alignment and ensures thoughtful design of the curriculum.

Learning Outcomes are the common language in learning and teaching. ECTS credits are the common “currency” or reward that students receive for achieving the learning outcomes.

Additional Resources

1. Download Summary guidelines for writing Learning Outcomes (pdf of A5 card). 
Accessible version of Summary Guidelines for Writing Learning Outcomes (Accessible version) (pdf document).

2.Writing and Using Learning Outcomes – A Practical Guide (handbook)Available for free digital download from Cork Open Research Archive

5. Learning Outcomes videos

The following videos address particular aspects of Learning Outcomes and give you additional details and practice examples to support you in this effort. Sitting below each video is a pdf of the powerpoint slides which can serve as summary notes for the video.

1. Why need LOs? | 2. What are LOs? | 3. How write LOs? | 4. How write Programme LOs? | 5. Mapping Programme LOs | 6. Linking ECTS and LOs | 7. Align LOs to Teaching, Learning, and Assessment | 8. Rubrics and assessing LOs | 9. Benefits and problems | 10. Competences and LOs

1: Why do we need Learning Outcomes? (9 min)

2: What are Learning Outcomes? (7.34 min)

3: How do I write Learning Outcomes? (18.30 min)

4: What are Programme Learning Outcomes and how do I write them? (10.12 min)

5: How do I map Programme Learning Outcomes  to module Learning Outcomes and to the National Qualifications Framework? (19.06 min)

6: How are ECTS credits linked to Learning Outcomes? (14.49 min)

7: How do I align Learning Outcomes to Teaching and Learning activities and to Assessment? (24.27 min)

8: How do I use rubrics to assess Learning Outcomes (18.09 min)

9: What are the benefits and potential problems with Learning Outcomes (17.20 min)

10: Learning Outcomes and competences - how are they related? (21.10 min)

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