Illustration of people working on a life-sized calendar together. One person is sitting on top of the calendar, another is on a ladder, and others are adding to the calendar.

Designing Your Course: Writing Learning Outcomes

Like planning your dream road trip, “backwards” design starts with the end goal. What is it that learners need to know once they’ve completed a course? Writing clear learning outcomes is the first step to designing your course before choosing instructional methods and assessment. 

What are course learning outcomes? 

Course learning outcomes describe what students should know, value and be able to do after a learning experience. They describe the significant goals of the course and the knowledge and skills that students will need to reliably demonstrate after completing the course.  

How do they benefit instructors and students? 

Course learning outcomes are tools that guide the design of courses and benefits instructors by simplifying course planning. Establishing clear and measurable learning outcomes: 

  • Facilitates selection and development of course assessments, learning activities and materials 
  • Ensures consistency of learning across sections of a course 
  • Simplifies the development of marking criteria 

Course learning outcomes also benefit students by: 

  • Setting expectations that are clear and transparent 
  • Giving a sense of direction and focus for studying 
  • Helping students understand the purpose of assignments or assessments 

Following an outcomes-based approachto curriculum design also facilitates transfer credit agreements between institutions. Clear learning outcomes make it easier for other institutions in B.C. to determine the equivalency of Langara courses. This increases the likelihood that students will be able to get assigned credit for the courses they take here. 

How can I learn more? 

You can find more information on the benefits and process of developing learning outcomes on the TCDC website. Our short videos will walk you through the steps of creating clear, measurable and learner-centred course learning outcomes and offer examples for your reference. 

Looking for personalized guidance and help developing your own course learning outcomes? Attend our upcoming one-hour workshop, TCDC Curriculum Series: Course Learning Outcomes on Nov 23 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm PST. Register now to claim your spot. 

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