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Outcome Resources

     General Education Objectives are only one subset of the course objectives you should have in your syllabi (providing your course meets at least one of the general education requirements). You should also have course-specific objectives, most frequently tied to your course content.

    One thing that should be mentioned here is that you should not include any statements like, "70% of the students will receive a C or better." This is not a learning objective because it does not tell anyone what students need to know and be able to do.

    Leno (1999) says that a typical instructional hour of an upper division (junior or senior) class should have about 10 objectives, but this may vary with the level and discipline of the course. Some topics are more process-oriented, others are hands-on, but you should strive to conceptualize your course objectives on outcomes stated in terms of what you expect the students to do in order to demonstrate that they have learned the important things. To help you, I have attached a list of example action verbs to use. These action verbs have subtle meanings, and so there should be one or more that exactly capture what you want.

    And so, one of the most critical areas needing your attention should be that of the course learning objectives for each course. Let me be clear about this (sorry if I sound like Pete and Repeat): Learning objectives are not instructional intentions, that is, what you as an instructor want to do or "cover." Learning objectives are written in the language that allows you as an instructor evaluate whether or not your students have met your expectations for learning. Learning objectives must be observable and measurable, or as Leno (1999) states: 

  • Leaning objectives are centered on the learner, not the teacher.
  • Learning objectives deal with outcomes, not the process.
  • Learning objectives are based on measures that are objective, not subjective.
  • Learning objectives ask for learner behaviors that are specific, not vague.

     Leno (1999) suggests the ABCD technique for writing learning objectives. If you already have written learning objectives, please use the procedure to see if your objectives meet the criteria:

        A = Audience: the focus is on your students, not you.

        B = Behavior: The behavior of the learner is the outcome and it must be measurable. The behavior consists of two parts: the ACTION verb and the CONTENT reference. Action verbs, as the name implies, denote what active behavior (that you can observe or measure) undertaken by the student. Please see the sample ACTION verbs. Here are some examples: Define homeostasis. Interpret the following paragraph. Order the following events according to when they happened.

        C = Conditions: Here you give constraints or qualifying givens that the student needs to take into account to answer the question. Given a temperature in Fahrenheit, convert it to Celsius.

        D = Degree or criterion: If you have a range of standards the student must meet, you must specify it in terms of quality, quantity or time. List three distinct factors contributing to global warming. (Here you specify that you require three factors, not one or two, and so the student needs to list three distinct factors).


 Leno (1999) was a well-written tutorial on the web but the url no longer exists. He should be credited with developing this useful resource that is included here. By the way, it is NOT Jay Leno!