Developing & Writing Course-Level Student Learning Outcomes

While programmatic student learning outcomes (SLOs) encompass what students should be able to know, think, or do across all courses within a curriculum, course student learning outcomes are more specific and describe achievement expected in a particular course.

  • Course outcomes should clearly relate to topics, assignments, and exams that are covered in the present course.
  • Course outcomes should be clear, measurable, use verbs (e.g., identify, recall,) and may contribute to the assessment of program learning outcomes.
  • Course outcomes are more detailed and specific than programmatic outcomes because they identify the unique knowledge and skills expected to be gained from a given course. However, course outcomes should be broad and general enough to accomodate changes in course content over time.
    • For example, a course outcomes may be written as “students will be able to desribe the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and historical trends within a specialty area.” Not including specific concepts, perspectives, and trends will allow an instructor to add to those concepts/perspectives/theories that are newly-emerging without re-writing the course outcome.
  • Course outcomes contribute to the achievement of programmatic outcomes.
    • For example, if a programmatic outcome is: “students will be able to describe the major concepts, theoretical persectives, and historical trends in psychology,” a course outcome may be: “students will be able to describe the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and historical trends in abnormal psychology” (i.e., a specific component of the discipline).

Writing a Course Outcome:

  • Unclear: The course will introduce you to major periods in the history of western music.

  • Clear: You will be able to identify and summarize the important features of major periods in the history of western music.
  • Unclear: You will understand important concepts and principles.

  • Clear: You will be able to apply important concepts and principles of psychology to draw conclusions about populations from samples.

  • Clear: You will be able to describe the operations of financial institutions and the services they provide.

  • Unclear: You will write a term paper on a topic that interests you.
  • Clear: You will be able to demonstrate your knowledge about the significance of current research in the field by writing a research report.
  • Clear: You will be able to prepare and present effective, informative, and persuasive public speeches.

Additional Important Points:

  • It is possible for courses to have additional course learning outcomes that may not contribute to overall programmatic outcomes.
  • The relationship between course and programmatic outcomes are described in a curriculum map.

Additional References:




Think Big We Do

Copyright © 2017 University of Rhode Island.