Creating a Syllabus: Step #2- Determining Learning Outcomes for a Course

Many new professors start building a syllabus by asking, “What should this class cover?”, rather than asking “What do I want my students to learn or achieve in this class?” Learning outcomes, sometimes known as “goals” or “objectives”, aid in building an effective, concise syllabus, the content of which leads to deep learning.

To determine a course-specific learning outcome, ask yourself: “What kind of measurable and observable knowledge, skills, abilities or attitudes should students have achieved by the end of my class? By what means will they achieve those outcomes?”

Remember that Skills lead to Competency, which leads to achievement of the Learning Outcome. Learning outcomes should emphasize what the students can do with what they have learned, resulting in a product that can be evaluated.

Click here for a document that provides you with a method for identifying desired skills and competencies, and shows you how to write an effective learning outcome.

This entry was posted in Creating a Syllabus, Preparing to Teach and tagged , , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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