In order for faculty and departments to succeed in educating students, they must establish what they hope students will learn. Broadly speaking, learning outcomes are the intended or expected knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that students take with them from an academic (or nonacademic) experience.

There are multiple guidelines that faculty and program designers should consider when writing learning outcomes. We suggest keeping four ideas in mind. Learning outcomes should be: 

  1. Specific and well defined
  2. Realistic and achievable
  3. Measurable
  4. Written in simple language with active verbs

Some learning outcomes are unique to their disciplinary content and focus. Yet, some learning outcomes are common across disciplines in higher education. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has created a list of learning outcomes essential to a college students’ education in the twenty-first century. Click here to find out more.

More on Learning Outcomes