Student Learning Outcomes

Bloom's Taxonomy

In 1956, the Associate Director of the Board of Examinations at the University of Chicago, Benjamin Bloom, developed a framework that categorized skills students are expected to attain as they learn. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchical structure representing six levels of thinking and learning skills that range from basic learning objectives such as knowledge of content through higher-order learning such as synthesis, evaluation, and creativity. In 2002, Bloom’s Taxonomy was revised to reflect the needs of today’s outcome-oriented language by changing nouns to active verbs. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a useful tool for writing learning outcomes to help students attain higher order thinking skills. Differences between the original taxonomy and the revised version can be found here.

Why Use Bloom's Taxonomy?

  • Learning goals are important to establish in a pedagogical interchange so that teachers and students alike understand the purpose of that interchange.
  • Organizing objectives helps to clarify objectives for themselves and for students.
  • Having an organized set of objectives helps teachers to plan and deliver appropriate instruction, design valid assessment tasks and strategies, and ensure that instruction and assessment are aligned with the objectives.


Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes (or “SLOs”) are statements that describe how students will act and think differently as the result of having successfully completed a course, providing information about how the course will transform them. From increasing their base of knowledge about a particular topic to acquiring important practical/professional skills to improving critical thinking, SLOs tell students how the course will contribute to their academic, professional, and personal development. Moreover, by assessing the extent to which students achieve SLOs, faculty members and administrators in departments, schools, and colleges can use student-provided data to consider how they might change how a course is taught or how a particular part of their curriculum is delivered.

ABCD Guide

To assist you in developing learning outcomes, follow the ABCD Guide:

  • Audience: Describes the intended learners of a given outcome (“student”).
  • Behavior: An action verb describing understanding, cognitive growth, or a skill that learners will develop (“Explain,” “Construct,” “Formulate,” etc.).
  • Condition: Describes physical and temporal features of the outcome (“within,” “by the end of the semester”).
  • Degree: Describes the level of attainment (“independently,” “fully”).
    This worksheet by the University of California at San Diego will help you create student learning outcomes using the ABCD Guide.

Examples of Student Learning Outcomes

Here are some excellent student learning outcomes:

  • Students will be able to design a controlled experiment.
  • Students will be able to collect and analyze research data.
  • Students will be able to disseminate research findings in written form.
  • Students will be able to verbally present research findings.
  • Students will be able to describe the colonization of the Americas by the British, French and Spanish.
  • Students will be able to describe fundamental biological processes and systems.
  • Students will be able to identify and interpret a wide variety of secondary and primary sources.
  • Students will be able to simulate engineering applications using non-linear modeling and simulation of engineering applications.


Other Resources

Sample Action Verbs for Writing Outcomes

Developing Student Learning Outcomes

ABCD Outcome Writing Model