How To Write Profitable Studying Outcomes
Discover how to write successful learning outcomes
Have you ever written a learning outcome? If you’ve ever designed a learning experience, be it a face-to-face workshop, an eLearning course, or even just a quick quiz, you may have tried it. If you were having a hard time deciding what to write for your results, or were just wondering what the point of it all, then you have come to the right article.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about learning outcomes, including how to use them, why you should use them, and how to write them effectively.
What are learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes describe the knowledge, skills, or abilities that a learner should acquire through completing a learning experience. Learning outcomes should include an action verb (e.g. “describe” or “analyze”) which is used to measure the learner’s level of competence through assessment. Learning outcomes are an important tool for trainers, learning designers and teachers around the world.
What are action verbs?
Action verbs are “do” words. They are a single word that describes an action that the learner can take.
The best tool for choosing action words for learning outcomes is Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s taxonomy is a framework for categorizing different types of actions according to the type of cognition they need. In other words, each category requires a different way of thinking, and therefore each category is associated with different action words. The ability to choose action words from a variety of categories indicates that your learning experience will require several different mindsets.
What is the purpose of learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes have 2 important functions:
- Learning outcomes are used by the creator of the learning experience to guide the design of the learning experience. They should be used at every step of the creation process to ensure that all content and activities meet these requirements.
- When shared with learners at the beginning of the learning experience, the learning outcomes allow learners to understand the purpose of learning and how it might fit into a broader curriculum.
Why are learning outcomes so important?
Writing learning outcomes is one of the first and most important steps in creating a learning experience, whether it is a face-to-face workshop, an eLearning course, or any other format. Indeed, learning outcomes should be written right after a learner is created so that the outcomes can be effectively tailored to the needs of the learner.
When learning outcomes are written early in the design process, they serve as a critical litmus test for each subsequent phase. For example:
- During the content-gathering phase, all content should be compared to the learning outcomes to determine whether the content is effective in getting the learner to achieve the results.
- In the sequence and activity design phase, the learning outcomes can be used to select activities that use the outcome-action verbs, such as activities that involve categorization or identification.
- In the assessment design phase, all questions should be designed to assess the learners’ learning outcomes directly to avoid questions that test irrelevant details from the course.
When learning outcomes are used consistently and effectively throughout the design and creation of a learning experience, the result is an experience that is much more engaging for learners. That’s because:
- The learning content becomes more focused, more relevant and more concise.
- The activities support learners in actively practicing learning.
- During the assessment, learners must demonstrate useful and applicable knowledge or skills.
When learners feel that a learning experience is relevant and useful to their needs, they will become more involved in the learning and more likely to apply and retain what they have learned.
How to write successful learning outcomes
- Design your learning outcomes starting with the sentence: “At the end of this learning experience the learner will be able to …”
- Select an action verb with Bloom’s taxonomy.
- Conclude with a statement of the knowledge or skills you want.
- Review and revise your learning outcome until it is as accurate and specific as possible.
It is also important to compare your final learning outcomes with one another. Without this step, you may find yourself repeating the same action verbs multiple times or choosing all action verbs from the same category of Bloom’s taxonomy. If so, it may be an indication that your learning experience is heavily geared towards memorizing content rather than applying the knowledge or putting it in context. This may be desirable if the course is part of a blended learning approach or part of a series of courses, but if it is a standalone course it may be worth checking your content.
Achieving precise learning outcomes takes time and practice. The effort is worth it, however, because the more accurate and precise the learning outcomes, the more likely it is that your learning experience will hit the mark and give learners what they need to be successful in their work.
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