How do I write learning outcomes?

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (published in 1956 and revised in 2001) gives you a way to express learning outcomes in a way that reflects cognitive skills.

There are five levels (lowest to highest cognitive skills):


You can use Bloom’s taxonomy to identify verbs to describe student learning. Examples of learning outcomes verbs for library instruction include:

    *Knowledge/Remembering: define, list, recognize
    *Comprehension/Understanding:characterize, describe, explain, identify, locate, recognize, sort
    *Application/Applying: choose, demonstrate, implement, perform
    *Analysis/Analyzing: analyze, categorize, compare, differentiate
    *Evaluation/Evaluating: assess, critique, evaluate, rank, rate
    *Synthesis/Creating: construct, design, formulate, organize, synthesize

There are some verbs to avoid when writing learning outcomes. These verbs are vague and often not observable or measurable. For example, how would you measure whether someone has “become familiar with” a particular tool? Use a more specific verb. If you want students to “understand” something, think more closely about what you want them to be able to do or produce as a result of their “understanding.”

Verbs to avoid:

    *Know about
    *Become familiar with
    *Learn about
    *Become aware of