Skip to Main Content

Writing Student Learning Outcomes

Guidelines for Writing SLOs

Student learning outcomes should be defined by using action terms that are:

  • Measurable
  • Observable
  • Performed by the learner

Outcomes that are unmeasurable or do not refer to actions performed by the learner cannot be easily assessed. We cannot measure what occurs in a student’s mind (e.g, the student understands concept X”), but we can measure actions taken by a student (e.g., the student defines, explains, and provides examples of concept X).

When writing student learning outcomes:

  • Avoid using unmeasurable terms, such as these:
    • Appreciate
    • Become aware of
    • Become familiar with
    • Develop
    • Know
    • Learn
    • Understand
  • Avoid describing actions taken by somebody other than the learner (e.g., “the program will help students to appreciate concept X” or “the course will provide students with the opportunity to learn about concept X”).

Bloom’s revised taxonomy1 of educational objectives can help you choose verbs that are appropriate to the level of achievement and performance you desire. Download Action Words by Bloom's Taxonomy Level, a useful table to help you write good student learning outcomes.

1. Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom's taxonomy: An overview. Theory Into Practice41(4), 212-218.

Unclear and Clear Sample Student Learning Outcomes

Sample Outcomes
Unclear Outcome Clear Outcome
Students will understand Erikson’s developmental stages. Students will identify and summarize each of Erikson’s stages of development.
Students will be familiar with the major sociological perspectives and how they relate to their daily lives. Students will describe each of the major sociological perspectives and will illustrate how each perspective relates to events in their daily lives.
Students will develop the skills necessary for conducting research in the natural sciences. Students will design, conduct, and analyze a research project using appropriate scientific theory and methods.

Center for Teaching Excellence

317 Laws Hall
551 E. High Street
Oxford, OH 45056