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Writing Learning Outcomes

Writing Assessable Learning Outcomes


Learning outcomes refer to what a student will be able to know or do at the end of a learning unit.  Learning outcomes are written for 4 areas of learning: 


This refers to the content, topics, what we know of as the syllabus.  You may start these learning outcomes by saying:

Cognitive Skills

This is what you expect students to do with the content: describe, compare, evaluate, apply etc.  These always start with a verb that will guide how you assess – see table with a list of verbs below.   

Subject Specific Skills

Not all units will have this set of learning outcomes, and relates to manipulation skills and professional skills that a graduate of such a programme needs.  For motor skills you may use verbs like: co-ordinates, balances, operates, handles (with confidence/skilfully), expresses, performs, calibrates, rotates etc. 

Key Skills

The University have a guided list of key skills (see QAU Handbook, section – scroll to near bottom) which are:


In assessing key skills you may want to add a particular group of key skills to a set of core assignments and include in the marking.  Or, you may ask students to evidence their key skills work through, for example, Progress Files.  You may have a mix of techniques.  For example assessing attitudes or group work/seminar work you could use verbs like: supports, shares, responds, judges, joins, questions, praises, listens, argues, responds, challenges, integrates, enjoys, volunteers, attempts, listens, receives, decides. 


Cognitive Skills for Learning Outcomes


As can be seen the cognitive complexity increases with ‘evaluation’ being a more complex cognitive activity than ‘knowledge’. 

Writing Learning Outcomes