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Course Learning Outcomes

Course Learning Outcomes (CLO's) are clear statements written for students to explain what they will be able to do following the completion of a particular class (in other words, what they have learned). They are constructed using action verbs followed by the demonstrable skills, abilities, or thinking gained through the coursework. Each course syllabus should delineate approximately 4-7 CLO's.

Course Learning Outcomes should align with and develop the departmental competencies expected of students upon completion of their degree program. Reviewing these relationships will enable department faculty to analyze their curricula and ensure that we are delivering the highest quality education for our students.

If you need assistance writing CLO's for your syllabus, please contact your Chair.

FAQ About CLO's

How are course learning outcomes related to projects, course assignments, and grading?
When you design an assignment/project, you can consider what learning outcomes students will achieve, at what level (introducing, practicing, advanced), and how will you evaluate this achievement.

How many should there be?
Each course should have 4-8 learning outcomes. Remember, you have to assess them, so be realistic.

What is the most common mistake faculty and staff make when constructing learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes need to be observable and measurable using an action verb. The most frequent mistake made is using vague verbs that aren't measurable such as "by the end of the semester the student will be familiar with ________ concepts or terms" or "by the end of the semester, students will be able to embrace _________." How do you measure familiarity and embracing? The next common mistake is gibberish such as: "Students will have a deep and abiding awareness of the transcendent magnificence of the universe!" The last common mistake is to focus on the instructor's behavior and not the student's: "The course will train students on how to use popular techniques."

Why should we bother with learning outcomes?
The most important reason is that making students aware of what you want them to learn helps them to do that more intentionally. You always have grading criteria in your head, and they are always trying to guess what that is. Without clear outcomes, students don't know what you want them to learn/do and sometimes you're not sure what you are grading. Another reason they are helpful is that it helps instructors assess and improve their teaching. A third, but not unimportant, reason is that both our accreditor and the federal government require that we make what we do transparent and share evidence that we are accomplishing those outcomes with student work.


Bad CLO- Students will recognize major theoretical concepts of western art.
Good CLO- Students will be able to describe and apply major theoretical concepts in non-western art.
Bad CLO- Provide students with the knowledge to write more clearly.
Good CLO- Students will be able to formulate a thesis and develop it through explanation of research.
Bad CLO- Students will learn to be better at computer skills.
Good CLO- Students will be able to launch an application, create a file, and select a tool to create an image in Adobe Photoshop.
Bad CLO- Students will understand basic design principles.
Good CLO- Students will be able to apply design principles and research methodologies to create a proposal.

Understand Be aware of
Appreciate Be conscious of
Comprehend Learn
Grasp Perceive
Know Value
See Get
Accept Apprehend
Have a knowledge of Be familiar with


View table of action verbs