Writing learning outcomes

Once you have established the aims of your lesson and understand the needs of your learners, you can write the learning outcomes. Learning ouctomes are clear, precise statements of what the learner will know or be able to do as a result of attending your session.

The learning outcomes you identify will determine the activities the students will undertake in the lesson and how you will evaluate whether the learners have achieved what you intended.

Ideally, your session will be embedded or integrated in a module. If so, each module or course of study will have a set of learning outcomes, so use these as a basis for developing learning outcomes for your session. Also draw from the Information Literacy Framework and other models such as the New Curriculum for Information Literacy or the ACRL Framework.

It’s important that your learning outcomes reflect the level of learning you want your students to achieve. You can use Bloom’s taxonomy and the SOLO taxonomy to help you identify appropriate verbs. Avoid vague, non-measurable terms like ‘understand’, ‘grasp, etc.

Ensure that learning outcomes are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-framed) and stated in student-centred terms. They should focus on what the student will be able to do rather than what you will have taught them. For example:

At the end of the lesson students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the pitfalls and drawbacks of the web as a source of quality academic information.
  2. Use a site’s web domain as a quality indicator and search parameter to retrieve better information.
  3. Determine and apply quality criteria when assessing/evaluating information on the web or in journals.

Be sure there will be adequate time in your teaching sessions to cover all the LOs which are agreed for a module. Specifically, learning outcomes should directly inform the design of your lesson and any assessment in which you are involved.

It’s important that module leaders are aware of and have agreed the learning outcomes you have devised. You should also state the learning outcomes to the students prior to or at the start of the lesson.


In the next section we look at writing a lesson plan.