Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes outline what students will know and be able to do as a result of engaging in the learning process. Learning outcomes articulate course/lab/tutorial goals and are aligned with program learning outcomes and if applicable competencies and graduate attributes.

Although learning objective is often used interchangeably with “learning outcome,” the term can be used to distinguish specific foci for a lecture or lab lesson (objectives) from what learners will be able to do upon successful completion of the course (outcomes). Whether articulating outcomes or objectives, these statements of achievement are most effective when expressed from the learner’s point of view.  

  • The process of developing learning outcomes itself offers an opportunity for reflection on the content of the course in the context of its potential applications. Developing learning outcomes means that the context of the learning will always be emphasized, and courses focus on the knowledge and skills that will be most valuable to the student now and in the future.
  • Learning outcomes point to useful methods of assessment.
  • Learning outcomes allow instructors to set the standards by which the success of the course will be evaluated.

Source: What Are Learning Outcomes?, University of Toronto, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation

A Learning Outcome (LO) is a measurable, observable, and specific statement that clearly indicates what a student should know and be able to do as a result of learning.

Well-written learning outcomes involve the following parts:

  •   Action verb.
  •   Subject content.
  •   Level of achievement.
  •   Condition of performance (if applicable).

Source: How to Write Course Learning Outcomes | Mohawk College

In determining the intended learning to be captured through your course learning outcomes, it can be useful to consider the “domains of learning” that you hold to be relevant for the learners in the context of your course.

These domains of learning are the categories that are captured in learning frameworks, such as Bloom’s Taxonomy and Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning. While Bloom’s Taxonomy focuses on hierarchical cognitive development from remembering to creating it may not capture aspects of learning that could be essential to your course, such as “caring” (developing new feelings, interests, and values about topics to be driven to learn) or “learning how to learn” (learning about the process of learning to become a self-directed learner) that are included in Fink’s Taxonomy.

You can mix and match domains based on your needs! If you are curious about learning frameworks, then check out these short videos: 



For a learning framework informed by Indigenous values and epistemology, see Marcella LaFever’s Four Directions Domain Framework.   

Action Verbs for Measurable Learning Outcomes

Once you have identified the learning domains that are most relevant for your course, consider the verbs that will help you draft the learning outcomes. Below are some action verbs that have been found to align with domains in Bloom’s and Fink’s taxonomies.  

Bloom’s Levels of Learning Fink’s Domains of Learning
Learning How to Learn Foundational Knowledge Application Caring Human Dimension Integration
Remember List, Monitor, Read… Ask, Choose, Collect… Enumerate, Imagine, Replicate… Credit, Mimic, Quote… Accept, Follow, Label… Blend, Document, Exercise…
Understand Describe, Diagram, Draw… Adhere, Annotate, Explain… Adapt, Identify, Maintain… Agree, Elaborate, Interpret… Compare, Discuss, Express… Communicate, Connect, Convert…
Apply Compose, Deconstruct, Exemplify… Act, Apply, Consult… Calculate, Design, Hypothesize… Demonstrate, Express, Illustrate… Cooperate, Discover, Guide… Acknowledge, Concept map, Integrate…
Analyze Categorize, Diagram, Frame… Analyze, Calibrate, Classify… Deduce, Examine, Handle… Assemble, Configure, Correlate… Collaborate, Characterize, Detail… Compare/Contrast, Comply, Dismantle…
Evaluate Determine, Develop, Internalize… Appraise, Estimate, Evaluate… Contrast, Critique, Defend… Balance, Diagnose, Judge… Assess, Clarify, Determine… Associate, Check, Conclude…
Create Create, Dramatize, Experiment… Align, Animate, Compile… Combine, Conduct, Design… Commit, Coordinate, Cultivate… Advocate, Build, Campaign… Construct, Display, Host…

Access this complete resource as a pdf; Crossroad between Bloom’s and Fink’s Taxonomies Verb List

Adapted with permission from Syracuse University, Department of Institutional Effectiveness. (2021). Learning Outcome & Objectives Framework – A Crossroad between Bloom’s and Fink’s Taxonomies. Retrieved from https://effectiveness.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Outcome-Framework.pdf

A tip for crafting outcomes is to choose a verb that helps you visualize the types of activities that learners will be doing to demonstrate their learning. Avoid verbs like “learn” and “understand” because those are difficult to demonstrate and measure. For example, to express that learners will know certain factual information, choose verbs that express what they will be able to do with that knowledge, such as:  

Identify and describe common plant and animal species found in the Okanagan Wilderness Area through field study and the development of an identification guide.  

Note that while one verb is usually sufficient to express an outcome, it can be effective to pair two verbs when they support an interrelated skill. Furthermore, in the example above, “through field study and the development of an identification guide” provide not only context for the outcome but also specify the activity and assignment that will ensure and assess that learners are able to “identify and describe” accordingly. Including such context supports constructive alignment between learning outcomes, activities, and assessments.