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MISTAKES IN WRITING STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES

The learning outcomes don’t follow department, division or university goals.
o All learning outcomes should have meaning for you, your department and the
students participating in your programs or receiving your services. This meaning
should be derived from the specific goals of your department.
The learning outcomes include words that are hard or impossible to measure.
o Avoid terms such as show understanding, develop awareness, possess a level of
comfort, appreciate, become aware of, become familiar with, know, learn. Use
Bloom’s Taxonomy to find good verbs for writing learning outcomes.
The learning outcomes include too many skills in one statement.
o Have only one skill per statement. If multiple skills are included, the outcome
becomes complex and difficult to measure. If you have more than one outcome
per statement, divide them into separate statements.
The learning outcomes are written to include everything possible a student could learn by
participating in the activity.
o Focus only on the key things the student should learn as a result of the activity.
The learning outcome statement is actually not a learning outcome.
o For example: The student will complete a self-assessment survey; the student will
utilize the services of [x] office.
The learning outcomes are not written in the appropriate format.
o There are several standard formats for writing student learning outcomes, each of
which contains the appropriate components for a learning outcome.
The learning outcomes attempt to focus on every domain/sub-domain.
o Focus on what is most applicable to your department.
The learning outcomes measure satisfaction or performance evaluation rather than the
learning of the student.
o Measuring whether someone liked something or not; whether the person would
recommend the program or not; how many used it; or how well someone did
something is not measuring the learning that occurred. Make sure you can ask
the question, “Is learning being demonstrated?”

There are too many learning outcomes.
o No one, no department can assess 30 outcomes in a year. Focus on the priority
areas for your department/programs. Identify a few key learning outcomes that
are important and that can be easily assessed.
Only one person wrote, reviewed, edited and implemented the learning outcomes.
o Even if you are a one person office, make sure you have other people review your
outcomes and help ask questions to make sure you are assessing what you need to
be for your students to learn.
(University of Rhode Island)