Instructions for writing student learning outcomes

Creating student learning outcomes for your degree or service program is a process. Some programs have found the following steps to be helpful:

Step 1

Start by having a faculty/staff meeting (including students and alumni, ideally) and brainstorm about what an ideal graduate would know, understand, and be able to do…and/or

Consult the web site for your professional/disciplinary organization – many of them are developing student learning outcomes for degree or service programs at various levels.

Step 2

Agree on a first draft of a list of outcomes, understanding that they will be revised several times before becoming firm (or definitive) and that they will change over time for currency in the discipline or service area and changing needs and characteristics of students.

Step 3

List the student learning outcomes on every syllabus for the required courses in your degree program (or programs within your student service area), indicating which of them will be covered in each particular course (or service program).

Step 4

Gather feedback from students in each course or service program about how well they perceive that student learning outcomes were addressed.

Step 5

Assess student learning by designing assignments specifically geared to measure achievement of each of the outcomes that are designated for each course, degree program, or service area.

Step 6

In light of this data, meet (with faculty, staff, and students) at the end of each semester or academic year and revise the list of outcomes, teaching methods, curriculum, and/or program.

Step 7

Repeat the above steps regularly and as needed to improve student learning.

Source/Reference: These steps were derived from information collected at various conferences by Dr. Cia Verschelden. She tailored the information to fit the approach that was implemented at Kansas State University in the fall of 2002.