writing measurable learning outcomes

Set Learners Up for Success By Writing Measurable Learning Outcomes

Whether it’s a brief training exercise or a full-length course, clear and measurable learning outcomes are one of the best ways for instructors to lay the foundation for a quality learning experience. With this firm foundation, learners are able to hone in on what is really being taught, maximizing their time and acquired knowledge. 

What are Measurable Learning Outcomes? 

Measurable learning outcomes specify the knowledge or skills an individual should have upon completion of a given course. When writing learning outcomes, instructors should ensure that the language used is both specific and measurable. Learning outcomes without measurability make it difficult for learners to decipher what the learning experience is truly intended to do. 

Measurable learning outcomes should be learner-centric. They should lead with language specifying what the learner will gain from the course, rather than what the instructor can provide. 

3 Basic Components of Measurable Learning Outcomes

Measurable learning outcomes should include the following three basic components. Incorporating these elements when writing outcomes will set learners up for success. 

Specifies the skill to be performed

Measurable learning outcomes include relevant action verbs, rather than abstract verbs that cannot be measured. Verbs like know, appreciate, or understand are not ideal as a means of measuring what knowledge the learner will gain. Including action verbs are important as it clarifies what the individual is expected to learn, giving them a clear trajectory in their learning experience. Some examples:

Upon completion of this course, the learner will be able to identify, define, list, etc.”

Establishes the circumstances in which the individual will perform the skill or knowledge

Measurable learning outcomes should establish the circumstances the learner will be provided to display the skill or knowledge gained in the course. For example: 

“Upon completion of this course, the learner will write a one paragraph analysis on…”

Defines the criteria to measure the level of understanding 

Lastly, a measurable learning outcome will define the criteria for how the learner’s success will be measured. For example:

“Upon completion of this course, the student will write a one paragraph analysis that will be scored on a rubric rating of 1 to 10.”

Adjusting Measurable Learning Outcomes

In any given course, learners will likely have varying levels of experience and expertise. Therefore, certain learning outcomes may need adjusting based on the learner. Luckily, quality measurable learning outcomes can be easily adapted to differing levels of expertise by adjusting the verbs used and the scope of the outcome.   

One commonality learners across all levels will appreciate is simple, measurable learning outcomes. Over-complicating learning outcomes may muddy the waters for individuals, taking away from the valuable information to be absorbed in a course. Lofty measurable learning outcomes can easily be adjusted by sticking to one action per outcome.

Striking the right balance of thoroughness and simplicity may take time at first. But once measurable learning outcomes are well established, they are easily transferable to other courses. 
At Allarium, we believe that neither your birthplace nor education should determine your career satisfaction. That is why we are passionate about helping companies create quality learning experiences for their employees and customers. Contact our team to get started.  

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