Course Learning Outcomes


All of the courses and student opportunities we offer support the program learning outcomes (core competencies):

Each syllabus must list not only the program-level outcomes (core competencies) the course addresses, but it must also list Course Learning Outcomes.

What should your students be able to do as a result of taking your course? Your outcomes should clearly define the answers to this question. Everything in the course–readings, discussion, activities, assessment–should be built upon this foundation and should be directly linked to specific CLOs. In your online syllabus, each listed assignment is literally linked to one or more CLOs. (Optional: Browse through the syllabi on our web site and see these links.)

checkmark To do: Learn about the school’s use of CLOs in the following narrated presentation:

See this helpful PDF of action verbs associated with each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised). You may also enjoy exploring the Objectives Builder from Arizona State University. This application effectively explains objectives/outcomes that are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and assists you in building your objectives.

Have core competencies and CLOs already been defined for your course?

Check to see if the class you are teaching already has competencies and CLOs assigned. If the course is listed and the comps and CLOs are already defined, use these to shape the development of your content, activities, and assessment.

While checking to see the CLOs for your course, you should also note the prerequisites, if any. This will help you to analyze the knowledge of the students who will be in your class.

If your course is a new one, you may need to develop the CLOs and identify which competencies your course addresses. These will need to be submitted for approval via this online form (contact Derek Christiansen for the required login information):

checkmark To do: List the Course Learning Outcomes for your course.

Backward Design

We will now walk through the process of “Backward Design.” In this model, the CLOs are like the final destination of a journey. Next we’ll plan the steps that will help map out the path students will follow to reach each outcome. Think of this document as your first draft and the ideas you add now as early ideas, not final decisions. Later modules in this course will provide additional resources which will help you further expand your thinking and then refine your plans.

Measuring Success

How will you determine whether or not students have successfully met the outcomes for your course? You will need to use assessments to allow students to demonstrate their competency in each area. Some common forms of assessment in online courses include:

  • papers
  • presentations (recorded or live during a web conference session)
  • case studies
  • problem-based activities
  • quizzes/tests

Consider each of your Course Learning Outcomes and which assessments you could use to allow students to demonstrate their mastery. One assessment may be associated with more than one CLO.

checkmark To do: For each CLO, identify an associated appropriate assessment. List these on your worksheet.

You can change your mind later and modify the assessments you will use in your course.

Preparing Students to Succeed on the Assessments

How will you structure the class so that students will be able to succeed in the assessments you have selected? First, you should focus on what types of activities they will complete before attempting the actual assessment. For example, if you will be having students write a paper, you might have an activity in the course in which they will identify resources for the paper. Or, you might have each student conduct an interview in order to prepare material for a presentation they will do as a major assessment in the class. One more example would be a series of online flashcards to be offered as preparation for a test which will measure mastery of specific terminology or processes.

These activities should also include learner interactions. Student can discuss content in discussion forums or work together in small groups to create collaborative products. In a traditional face-to-face class, learner interaction is often a natural part of sitting together in the same room. In an online class, the instructor must consciously design opportunities for students to interact and learn with each other. Student-to-student interaction has been demonstrated to be positively associated with learner satisfaction.

checkmark To do: For each CLO, identify activities students will complete which will support the successful completion of the assessment. Add these to your worksheet.

You can change your mind later and modify the activities you will use in your course.

Selecting and Preparing Instructional Materials

Now it is time to identify the materials that will help give students the information they need to carry out the activities and complete the assessment. This is where you will list the reading resources. Consider adding other types of media, too, such as good videos. Finally, add your own instruction to help introduce and analyze the topics covered in the modules of your class. Students look to you to help them interpret what they are reading and recognize the most important issues. They appreciate your experience as it relates to the topics they are trying to understand. Your content can be provided in various formats including a written lecture or one that is recorded.

Remember that you will need to provide some type of recorded content for each module or each week of the semester. That recording could be a short weekly update or it could be a recorded lecture. We recommend a series of shorter lecture recordings rather than one single long lecture for each module. This is helpful not only for issues of maintaining attention online but also it simplifies your work in the future when part of one lecture needs an update. You will only need to re-record that shorter recording rather than a very long one.

checkmark To do: For each CLO, list instructional materials that will be used to support student success on the assessment. Examples include a textbook, peer-reviewed articles, video, instructor-recorded lecture.