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Learning Outcomes

This is a guide to writing and using learning outcomes effectively with students. Learning outcomes should describe what the student will be able to do once they have left your classroom.

They may just be able to do it a little better, they may have begun to grow in confidence with it or they may have fully mastered it. 
Learning outcomes should not be used to describe activities during the class but learning, knowledge, skills and/or attributes students gain as a result of being in your lesson.

What follows are a range of approaches that can support you in your use of learning outcomes.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

This image was sourced HERE where you can read more about Bloom’s Taxonomy.

You should work from bottom to top.

You should work from bottom to top during the planning process. Start the students with lower level thinking skills and work towards the upper half during the lesson so that their learning is appropriately scaffolded towards every student being able to access high challenge.

As you write your learning outcomes, it’s useful to make use of verbs so that you and the learners are clear what they will be able to be/do by the end of the lesson.

Take a look at learning outcomes verbs for Bloom’s Taxonomy here.

An English lesson on creative writing with a focus on ‘metaphors’.

Students will be able to:

  • Define what a metaphor is (Comprehension)
  • Differentiate between a metaphor and a simile (Analysis)
  • Create their own metaphors (Synthesis)Students will be able to:

A childcare lesson on policy with a focus on the child protection act.

Students will be able to:

  • State the key features of the act (Comprehension)
  • Apply examples of policy from their own workplace to the key features of the act (Application)
  • Evaluate scenarios relating to dilemmas they may be faced with at work (Evaluation)
Why not share the language of learning with your students? 
Get them to use this orange to evaluate their learning during and at the end of the lesson- what can they now do?

This image was sourced HERE where you can download PDF versions for printing and sharing.

Change wording, resources and activities to make learning outcomes more challenging.
Example: ‘State the key features of the act.’
This seems as though it would be a quick activity- probably with small group discussion and then whole class questioning. There’s nothing wrong with that but more individualised planning could have taken place here.
WORDING: You could exchange ‘state’ for ‘judge importance’ in some cases- as a stretch activity for those at a higher level. Move around the groups and add in a ranking discussion to those tables that have already decided on the key features.
RESOURCES: You could provide copies of the act or prompt sheets for some lower level learners to support their progress.
ACTIVITIES: Think about groupings and pairings carefully. Some students could be asked to set questions for others to add extra challenge.
Consider how stretch and challenge can be available for every activity- for every learner.

Learning Outcomes as Questions

Turn your learning outcomes into questions for your students. This way, they know how much progress they’ve made as by the end of the lesson, they’ll be able to answer each of the questions.

Take a look at question stems for Bloom’s Taxonomy here.

An English Lesson

  • Define what a metaphor is (Comprehension) = What is a metaphor? Please give a definition and an example.
  • Differentiate between a metaphor and a simile (Analysis) = What is the difference between a metaphor and a simile? Please use examples from the text being studied to evidence your point.
  • Create their own metaphors (Synthesis) = What metaphor have you created for use in your own piece of creative writing?

A Childcare Lesson

  • State the key features of the child protection act (Comprehension) = What are the key features of the child protection act?
  • Apply examples of policy from their own workplace to the key features of the act (Application) = What experiences have you had at work that could relate to these key features?
  • Evaluate scenarios relating to dilemmas they may be faced with at work (Evaluation) = How would you react if a serious scenario occurred at work?

Lesson Structure

Sharing lesson structure with your learners is important. It is important to share what will be expected of them at each stage as well as timings so they know where their time will be going. If you’re running a more investigative lesson and you don’t want to share everything the students will be doing, try hiding the content using clues or obscure images/ words.

  • Share a list of stages the lesson will take in bullet points.
  • Share pictures that outline the lesson.
  • Share key words in a Wordle type format that may intrigue learners as to the content of the lesson.
  • Share a ‘lesson menu,’ with items displayed as courses of a meal.

Student Wish List

Reveal the topic/ content of the lesson to students.

Students write on Post It Notes what they’d like to get out of the lesson. They stick their Post It Notes to the ‘Wish List.’

These student wishes can then be your learning outcomes for the lesson. They can remain individualised and at the end 
of your lesson, you’ll be able to check whether they’ve been met or not. 

Students remove them if they have been met. It’d be great to record this progress in some way- keep the completed ones in the room somewhere.

If they haven’t been met, students can leave these wishes on the wish list for a future lesson or they could be set as targets for out of lesson activity.

Instead of them remaining individualised, or in addition, you could discuss the individual wishes and decide on the final ones to aim towards as a class. These would then be reviewed at the end of the lesson as a more focused set of learning outcomes.

Use Technology: Try Padlet or Today’s Meet to collect these wishes from students instead of a laminated wall!

Review Learning Outcomes Regularly

Whatever method is selected, you should ensure that outcomes are visible in the room at all times.

Flipchart paper stuck in the room that you/ the students tick off once completed- use a PowerPoint slide/ SmartBoard Presentation/ Prezi in the same way.

Scrolling outcomes across the board- pause them at various points to get a show of hands to see who’s ready to move on. Have stretch activities for those that can.

Weekly/ Monthly/ Termly poster- you could have your outcomes ready for a set/ group of lessons and mark off progress at the end of the lesson, with students initialing the outcomes once they feel comfortable to move on. BONUS: Try sticking these on the desks so that students can always see them (courtesy of @ASTsupportAAli).

Lesson Worksheets- Have the outcomes printed on lesson resources so that students can always see what they’re working towards.

Get students to use thumbs up/ thumbs down or traffic lights to say when they think a learning outcome has been achieved.

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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