Learning Outcomes

Introduction to Learning Outcomes

There is no clear agreement in the literature as to the specific difference between terms such as learning outcomes, objectives, and goals. Given the lack of clarity and utility of these distinctions, from now on we will only refer to the term learning outcomes in this module. There are multiple definitions of learning outcomes but they are all fairly similar. Hounsell and Anderson (2008) use the phrase “ways of thinking and practicing” or what others refer to as “habits of mind” to describe the depth and breadth of knowledge and subject-specific skills, and know-how that students come away with from an educational experience.

Learning outcomes are direct statements that describe the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students are expected to reliably demonstrate in successfully completing a course. They describe learning that is significant and durable– learning that really matters in the long term. Learning Outcomes should be observable, assessable in some way, and both rigourous and flexible (rigourous in that they specify the complexity of learning expected and flexible in that the learning may be demonstrated in a variety of ways).