What are learning outcomes?

16 Jan 2024
Learning Outcome

Starting a journey without a plan leads to insurmountable obstacles and unprecedented problems that might jeopardize the goal. On the contrary, having a specifically designed plan helps map the individual's progress and success.

It is especially essential to establish the goals and objectives of the programs and courses in the context of education. That is where learning outcomes prove to be an instrumental factor in contributing to academic achievements.

Why do learning outcomes matter?

Learning outcomes refer to statements that point out the specific knowledge, skills, or expertise that the students would be able to demonstrate towards the end of the course. Furthermore, teachers and educators can measure these outcomes.

As a result, it helps to assess whether or not the teaching methodologies are effective or useful for the learners. Hence, it is important for education institutes and teachers to pay close attention to developing clear outcomes.

Besides, one of the primary reasons for drafting the learning outcomes is that it helps to select and classify relevant content. Additionally, it assists the teachers in designing appropriate e-learning or paper-and-pen assessments. Consequently, it enables students to demonstrate and improve their skills.

Types of Learning Outcomes

There are various types of learning outcomes that relate to the various abilities of the students, and they are as follows:

  • Intellectual Skills: This type of outcome indicates the student’s capacity to understand various concepts, rules, and procedures at the fundamental level. In fact, with the help of intellectual skills, an individual can succeed in performing elaborate and complex tasks.
  • Cognitive strategy: a specific outcome wherein the instructor emphasizes the methods to improve the student’s intellectual abilities. Also, it enables them to think, determine, and analyze varied concepts and make decisions accordingly.
  • Verbal Information: The teacher focuses on whether the students have grasped a firm understanding of what they have been taught. It also determines the student’s ability to share accurate information with others.
  • For example, the teacher asks the students to explain what they have understood in the previous class to the rest of the class. This demonstration of knowledge can occur in the form of a blended learning class exercise.
  • Motor Skills: It relates to physical activity in terms of the student’s ability to act out particular commands within a specified time. Hence, it relates to the student’s physical, intellectual, and mental fitness.
  • Attitude: A student’s attitude is not something that teachers can measure as it relates to the former’s behavior. However, they can observe it through the learner’s overall personal growth and enhancement of skills and knowledge.
  • They can also assess it based on the learner’s responses to people and situations and their overall contribution to society.

How Do You Establish Learning Outcomes?

Learning Outcome

Goal Definition

Teachers must be mindful of the goals and purpose of the program while writing the outcomes. The goal might relate to the student's ability to perform a task or demonstrate their understanding of crucial concepts.

Furthermore, they can establish SMART goals:

S - Specific

M - Measurable

A - Achievable

R - Realistic

T - Timely

Creating SMART goals enables the students to stay on the right path and prevents them from going off track. Also, it creates attainable objectives and motivates them to accomplish them.

Utilize strong action verbs

Incorporating strong action verbs helps to highlight the qualities and capabilities that students will be able to demonstrate. It refers to observable and measurable behavior and differs according to the outcomes.

Intellectual Skills: The action verbs include select, match, demonstrate, illustrate, classify, compute, recognize, explain, and reproduce.

Cognitive Strategy: Teachers can use the action verbs in this category, which include identify, distinguish, manipulate, classify, categorize, organize, operate, discover, judge, etc.

Verbal Information: state, outline, describe, identify, break down, recall, demonstrate, select, name, and show.

Motor Skills: Compose, devise, generate, show, sketch, make, design, combine, modify, produce, etc.

Attitude: contrast, critique, express, assess, conclude, display, justify, support, and conclude, etc.

Develop appropriate assessments

Apart from developing an effective curriculum, teachers should also pay equal attention to developing assessments. Assessments are key to determining whether or not students have succeeded in overcoming their shortcomings.

Therefore, teachers can create different kinds of questionnaires with the help of LMS and facilitate comprehensive assessment techniques. For example, they can incorporate MCQs, online quizzes, and qualitative and descriptive questions.

They can utilize both online and offline (traditional) assessment methods in the regular classroom sessions.

Use clear and specific terms

It is essential to use clear and specific terms to avoid confusion and enable a precise understanding of the learning outcomes. For example, they can avoid including vague statements or verbs that they cannot measure easily.

At the same time, the statements must not be inspirational; rather, they should be practical, allowing students to self-assess and regulate their learning.

How to Create Effective Learning Outcomes?

Establish realistic outcomes

The purpose of educational programs and courses is to help students become proficient and knowledgeable. Nevertheless, overwhelming them with unrealistic outcomes within a limited time leads to ineffective learning.

Therefore, it is crucial to develop realistic outcomes, irrespective of traditional or e-learning modules. A useful strategy in this context is to assign or draft a few outcomes (four to six), enabling students to learn efficiently.

Edit and review the statements

The next step, after completing the outcome, is to edit and review it to make sure that it is according to the guidelines of a particular framework. For instance, they can use LMS to draft the outcome and evaluate its accuracy.

On the other hand, they can also confirm if the students are progressing well according to the set outcomes. Analytical reports, performance reports, and attendance records can help determine if students are on the right track.

Levels of learning outcomes

There are two major levels of learning outcomes that students must undergo to attain academic success.

Level 1: Course Outcomes

Course outcomes (COs) are a specific set of goals that relate to what the students will be able to do when they successfully complete a course. It is usually at the end of a semester or academic year.

For example, learners should be able to develop solutions for privacy and technical issues; learners should be able to balance business concerns; etc.

Level 2: Program Outcomes and Program-Specific Outcomes

  • Program Outcomes

Program outcomes, or POs, refer to the set of goals or competencies that teachers expect students to accomplish at the end of their program or degree.

For example, students in the undergraduate physics program will participate in experiential learning activities (e.g., internships, service learning, undergraduate research, or study abroad experiences).

  • Program-Specific Outcomes

Program-specific outcomes refer to the specific outcomes that the students would be able to demonstrate that particularly relate to their subject and expertise.

Example: A student graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English will have demonstrated the ability to read, interpret, and write about a diverse range of texts in English and understand those texts analytically and critically.

How can LMS Software Enhance Student Learning Experience?

Level 3: Life-Long Learning

The academic and vocational education and training that students receive is not solely for the benefit of individuals. In fact, effective education and learning outcomes must enable students to contribute to society and the community.

For example, a student who has completed his or her graduation in botany can research and investigate the current issues that specific species of flora face. Therefore, they can conduct further research to find the optimal solution.

Difference Between Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Learning objectives and learning outcomes might sound similar, as both establish clear goals that students will be able to achieve at the end of the program or course. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the two, which are as follows:

Learning Objectives Learning Outcomes
It is from the teacher’s perspective and outlines why a teacher prepares a particular learning activity. Outlines are more learner-oriented, highlighting what the students will gain from the activity or program.
It emphasizes the fact that students must develop various skills. It emphasizes how individuals should learn to utilize their skills.
It indicates the necessity of students understanding various issues or challenges related to the subject topics. The learner’s ability to utilize their skills and knowledge to solve the issues. It also relates to their critical thinking skills to evaluate and analyze a situation.
It relates to the goals that the learning program or course will accomplish by the end of the term. Outcomes, on the other hand, state what the classroom sessions of the respective courses have accomplished.
Also, it helps to determine the ongoing progress of the students and evaluate their overall development throughout the program.

What are the benefits of learning outcomes?

  • It develops students' capacity to think critically.
  • It sows the seeds of lifelong learning, enabling students to continue their education beyond the completion of a degree or course.
  • They learn skills and competencies that prepare them to face challenges.
  • Fosters a sense of social responsibility, inspiring them to contribute to society.
  • It teaches them key soft skills like creative problem-solving and analytical ability, assisting them to examine and solve real-life problems effectively.


Learning outcomes are precise, action-oriented statements that indicate the skills and knowledge that students will be able to demonstrate by the end of the program. It helps teachers and students engage in a collaborative learning system. Therefore, it helps students learn, improve, and achieve crucial educational goals.

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Gurudev Somani Author :

Gurudev Somani,

Academic Consultant

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