Student Learning Outcomes Assessment

Student Learning Outcomes identify the knowledge, skills, or attitudes that students will be able to demonstrate, represent, or produce upon successful completion of an assignment, course, or program.

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment is a process wherein the institution engages in full circle closed loop assessment as described in the following graphic:

Fitchburg State University Assessment: Assess, Learn, Improve

Successful Outcomes Assessment

  • Review the learning that takes place in your course.
  • Review syllabus and other course materials.
  • Prioritize that learning. Align learning priorities with key documents including program learning outcomes.
  • Review examples of learning outcomes from other sources such as similar courses or institutions.
  • Make sure all outcomes are measurable and can be assessed (see below for guidance in creating outcome statements).
  • After developing learning outcomes for your students develop an assessment instrument (a test, essay, or project, etc.) and a scoring rubric.
  • Administer the assessment to your students. 
  • Evaluate your students’ performance on the assessment instrument.
  • Assess your students’ mastery of the learning outcomes given their performance on the assessment instrument.
  • Reflect on why students did or did not master the learning outcomes, and develop strategies for improvement

Structure of Learning Outcomes Statements

The central element to learning outcomes assessment is the development of outcome statements. Begin with an action verb that denotes the level of learning expected. Terms such as know, understand, learn, appreciate are generally not specific enough to be measurable. Levels of learning and associated verbs may include the following:

  • Remembering and understanding: recall, identify, label, illustrate, summarize.
  • Applying and analyzing: use, differentiate, organize, integrate, apply, solve, analyze.
  • Evaluating and creating: Monitor, test, judge, produce, revise, compose.

Consult Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy for more details.

Continue with a Learning Statement – The statement should describe the knowledge and abilities to be demonstrated. For example:

  • Identify and summarize the important feature of major periods in the history of western culture.
  • Apply important chemical concepts and principles to draw conclusions about chemical reactions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge about the significance of current research in the field of psychology by writing a research paper.

Do the Learning Outcomes specify what all students who complete the assignment, course, or program should be able to complete?

Is each Learning Outcome stated from the perspective of the learner? Although we often use the terms goals, objectives, and outcomes interchangeably, Learning Outcomes reflect a student’s knowledge, skills, and abilities whereas goals shape the assignment, course, or program design.

Are the Learning Outcomes comprehensive, representative of both the depth and breadth of the assignment, course, or program? One of the challenges when constructing these statements is to capture the right level of specificity. Consider this Learning Outcome as a good outcome,

“By the end of the program, a student should be able to write a persuasive essay”

AAC&U VALUE Institute

Fitchburg State University has been participating in the AAC&U VALUE Institute national artifact collection and scoring since 2016. Our involvement includes the participation in the Massachusetts state-wide consortium of institutions in which our faculty providing a total of up to 100 artifacts aligned with the Critical Thinking VALUE Rubric (PDF). Faculty train as scorers and receive professional development via assignment design as part of their involvement in this initiative.