Learning Outcomes/OG

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Learning Outcomes
Contributors Joseph Bergin, Christian Kohls, Christian Köppe, Yishay Mor, Michel Portier, Till Schümmer, Steven Warburton
Last modification June 5, 2017
Source Bergin et al. (2015)[1]; Warburton et al. (2016)[2][3]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

Also Known As: Clear Goals (Clear Goals)

Set clear and measurable learning outcomes to help students organize their study and to ensure that you capture all of the elements that you need to teach and assess.


You are planning your teaching and have to manage multiple expectations: what you want your students to have learnt, what your students expect to have learnt, the expectation from your colleagues that you have covered the material adequately with your students before they move on.


Your students are struggling to understand what they need to do to pass the course which has high quality content but suffers from a lack of imaginative and suitably challenging assessment methods. Complaints from other colleagues suggest that your students have not reached the expected depth of understanding for the next stages of their academic journey.


If you cannot clearly articulate what you expect the students to have learnt from the course in terms of knowledge skills and attitudes then how will you know what or how to assess and therefore whether you have succeeded in your teaching? Students need to have the necessary grounding to move smoothly from one course to the next. Tutors need to know what you have taught and where the students have reached before they arrive.


Therefore, take time to state the goals of your teaching in a clear, active and measurable manner. Make these visible at the start of the course or lesson.

Solution Details

Write down what you expect the students to have learnt by the end of your teaching session, whether it is a single event or a whole course. What is the future state that you expect the students to have reached in terms of their knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes? Write these as statements using active verbs and in such a manner that there will be a measurable output at the end. The learning outcomes should set general goals. They provides the big picture and should summarize the achievements at the end of a course. For a module that lasts around a single semester you should set yourself the task of writing four to five learning outcomes. A single learning outcome might be too abstract, a longer list of learning outcomes is probably too detailed and you risk that the big picture is no longer seen.

Positive Consequences

By setting learning outcomes you will be able to achieve Constructive Alignment (Constructive Alignment) to match your assessment, activity and content to achieve your teaching goals. This pattern is granular in that it can be used for a single lecture or within a lesson plan.

Negative Consequences

It is often a challenge to explicitly write down the learning outcomes. One has an implicit understanding of what is expected, however stating these expectations can be a challenge and quite time consuming.


Blooms (revised) taxonomy is one model that is used to help level set learning outcomes[4][5]. Baume[6] also provides tips on writing and using good learning outcomes.

There is a simple template to help thinking about course design in advance:

Example01 Learning Outcomes-OG.png

This was used in a programing course at TH Köln to define the goals and outcomes:

Example02 Learning Outcomes-OG.png

Related patterns

This pattern is used by Constructive Alignment (Constructive Alignment) and forms the base for Assessment Criteria List (Assessment Criteria List).


  1. Pattern published in Bergin, J., Kohls, C., Köppe, C., Mor, Y., Portier, M., Schümmer, T., & Warburton, S. (2015). Assessment-driven course design foundational patterns. In Proceedings of the 20th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2015) (p. 31). New York:ACM.
  2. Patlet published in Warburton, S., Mor, Y., Kohls, C., Köppe, C., & Bergin, J. (2016). Assessment driven course design: a pattern validation workshop. Presented at 8th Biennial Conference of EARLI SIG 1: Assessment & Evaluation. Munich, Germany.
  3. Patlet also published in Warburton, S., Bergin, J., Kohls, C., Köppe, C., & Mor, Y. (2016). Dialogical Assessment Patterns for Learning from Others. In Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP 2016). New York:ACM.
  4. Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Theory Into Practice. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4104_2
  5. Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.
  6. Baume, D. (2009). Writing and using good learning outcomes. Leeds Metropolitan University.