What are Learning Outcomes? Types, Benefits, and Examples of Learning Outcomes

10, June 2021

Frank Herbert once quoted -

“One learns from books and examples only that certain things can be done. Actual learning requires that you do those things.”

This quote reflects that learning is a lifelong process. It can’t be confined to the four walls of the classroom & holds the power to impact a learner’s life.

Likewise, the learning outcomes – the result or impact of learning can’t be confined to grades or marks obtained by learners in exams. The concept of learning outcomes extends beyond the “knowledge” attained by students in academics.

This is why the New Education Policy (NEP 2020) has emphasized defining & achieving the best learning outcomes by encouraging institutions to offer “student-centric” education.

Before going in-depth about the various learning outcomes, let’s first understand what learning outcomes are…

What are Learning Outcomes?

Learning outcomes means how much knowledge or skills a student should acquire through various assignments, course, class or programs, by the end of a specific time period. They are observable and measurable by knowledge, skills, abilities, values, etc. Learning outcomes describe clearly what it is you want your students to be able to do by the end of a course.

The learning outcomes focus more on student performance rather than they do on traditional techniques or courses.

However, in a broader perspective, the term “Learning Outcomes” can be defined as an amalgamation of a learner’s knowledge, skill set, and the ability to leverage them in real-time situations. There are several taxonomies such as SOLO (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes), Bloom’s Taxonomy, Fink's Taxonomy, Wiggins and McTighe Taxonomy on education. An ideal learning outcome would be something that abides by all the aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy as it promotes knowledge & skill development in individuals and makes them life-long learners.

What is the Focus of Student Learning Outcome?

The main focus of student learning outcomes is to make students academically sound, skillful, and prepare them for life-long learning. 

When we speak of “learning outcomes” – we must pay attention to whether they are–

  1. S-Specific
  2. M-Measurable
  3. A-Achievable
  4. R-Realistic
  5. T-Timely

In short, the learning outcomes must be “SMART" & clearly defined in terms of attainability! It will empower students to achieve the outcomes smoothly. 

How to Write Learning Outcomes?

Learning goals must be articulated in such a way that they cover - 

  • All the educational goals of the students as well as institutions
  • Offer a roadmap to achieve course outcomes & program outcomes
  • Based on knowledge & skill development & can be attained via teaching-learning methods
  • Focuses on students’ growth & enable them to develop a lifelong learner mindset
  • Makes students capable of handling problems in real-life situations

Practices to Avoid While Building Learning Outcomes

While articulating learning outcomes, the faculty or educators must take care of the following-

  • Do not focus on “teacher-centric” practices -always make the learning “student-centric”
  • Do not confine the learning outcomes to course or program outcomes
  • Do not include projects that are not aligned with the students learning outcomes
  • Do not force students to learn the theoretical concepts for an academic score, instead encourage them to learn with practical experiments
  • Be specific in terms of what to expect- the learning outcomes must be measurable 

Levels of Learning Outcomes

Technically, there are the following two major levels of learning outcomes that a learner needs to outgrow for attaining the highest level.

Level 1: Course Outcomes (COs)

Course outcomes can be defined as a particular set of goals that the faculty wants their students to reach at the end of any semester or academic year.

For example – If a student enrolls himself in a Mathematics Course. He/she must be able to learn various subjects & gain understanding about it in an academic year.

If the learner is asked to find out the root of any given equation by using the Newton-Raphson method accurate to third decimal placethen -

Action: Determine (Apply)

Knowledge: Root of the given equation (Conceptual & Procedural)

Condition: Using the Newton-Raphson method

Criterion: accurate to the third decimal place

Level 2: Program Outcomes (POs) and Program Specific Outcomes (PSOs)

Program Outcomes: POs can be defined as a particular set of goals that the faculty wants their students to reach at the end of any program/degree/graduation.

Example -

Program Specific Outcomes: Student who has completed Engineering is asked to perform a practical. He/she should be able to do it with the help of the concept learned in the program.

Example - PSOs define what the graduates of a particular program should be able to do at the completion of the program.

Level 3: Life-Long Learning

Here, the story gets different.

Students learn various things during their academic sessions but they contribute their learning & knowledge to create something new & for the welfare of the country & society.

Example - An educated individual innovating a device to help elderly people with the help of the knowledge he/she has & keeps on updating the knowledge throughout the life. Student who has completed Computer Engineering is asked to design & develop software. He/she should be able to plan, analyze, and design software with the help of knowledge gained. 

Examples of Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are not limited to just the academic growth of a learner. Being a scholar by achieving Course Outcomes & Program Outcomes is an undoubtedly crucial aspect but there are other types of important learning outcomes as well.

Let’s understand the examples of learning outcomes one by one.

#1. Intellectual Skills

With this type of learning outcome, learners must be able to understand the concept in depth to acquire the highest learning outcomes. Gaining knowledge is the basic learning outcome expected from a student.

#2: Cognitive Skills Development

This learning outcome encourages students to think, analyze, and understand in depth the value of a certain concept & then behave accordingly.

#3: Knowledge Sharing

Students must be able to pass on valuable information to others. So, in this learning outcome, students are supposed to create a value system of knowledge by first gaining it & then sharing it with the world.

#4: Motor Skill Development

Motor skill development deals with improving a student’s ability to plan & take appropriate action in terms of their physicality. They must work towards their health & physical well-being.

#5: Individual’s Personal Growth

This learning outcome reflects the internal state of the learner’s behavior. It measures Personal growth in terms of knowledge, skills, and ability to create something for society is the highest stage of learning. The learner must be able to respond according to the situation he/she faces in real life & maintain a balance between professional & personal life.

  • Remember
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Creation

And therefore, Bloom’s Taxonomy can be considered as ideal while defining learning outcomes. If a student wants to reach the ultimate stage, then he/she has to go through all the stages and be willing to think & act “out of the box”.

EdTech tools like school ERP or college ERP software with online assessment software & e-learning systems can help students in their journey.

Learning Objectives v/s Learning Outcomes

Although they may sound similar, there’s a fine line between learning outcomes & learning objectives. They are different yet interlinked.

Let me help you understand the difference between the two with the following examples of learning outcomes & objectives-   

Learning Objectives

Learning Outcomes

The learner should attain knowledge about a certain topic.
The learner should develop various skills.
The learner should understand the
challenges of a certain concept in details.
Case I: Learner reads books about English & prepares for the upcoming test.
Case II: Student understands the concept of Human Biology & Medicines.
Case III: Completing certain levels of assessments.
The learner should leverage the knowledge to create something.
The learner should learn to utilize the skills.
The learner should utilize his skills & knowledge to analyze & overcome the challenges.
Case I: Learner understands the language English and
writes a book.
Case II:Student becomes a Doctor & rightfully performs his duty & enables others to do the same.
Case III: Acquiring skills while doing the assessments .

In a nutshell, learning outcomes are mapped & measured in terms of “Action”. Whereas, learning objectives are confined to the “Plan of Action”.

Key Benefits of Learning Outcomes

The following list depicts the key benefits of learning outcomes attainment.

  • Makes students skillful, smart & efficient
  • Develop capability to analyze & deal with real situations
  • Enables students to be a lifelong learner
  • Students emphasize innovation rather than norms
  • Enhances the value of education
  • Learner gains knowledge, values & becomes successful in every manner
  • Encourages learners to create a better society

How MasterSoft Can Help You Ease the Implementation Journey of the Learning Outcomes Successfully?

To help students attain the learning outcomes, MasterSoft has designed & developed edTech tools such as a learning management system (LMS) that offers the given advantages and helps students to attain learning outcomes.

#1: Design Competent Curriculum & Online Assessments

As an educator, you need to prepare a syllabus & curriculum that would encourage students to brainstorm, analyze, and develop a mindset of “doer”.

With MasterSoft’s E-learning Software with online assessment tools, you can design a curriculum & syllabus that follows Bloom’s Taxonomy. You also get the provision to create assessment questions based on various stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy to help students at various stages of their knowledge level.

To make things interesting & engaging, there are various assessment patterns that could be introduced such as –

  • MCQs
  • Descriptive tests
  • Online Quizzes

#2: Educational Models - LOCF & OBE

Touted to be the most efficient educational models – (OBE) Outcome-Based Education, (LOCF) Learning Outcome Based Curriculum Framework, you must think of implementing them.

MasterSoft offers edTech ERP software that could help you integrate these educational models and calculate the Outcomes & Program Outcomes – COs & POs throughout students’ educational journey.

The ultimate learning outcome extends beyond COs-POs but to ensure one reaches the stage, excelling at these levels of learning outcomes is crucial.

#3: Analyze & Enhance Student Performance

MasterSoft’s ERP software is not limited to offering to map & measuring CO-PO levels of learning outcomes. With the inbuilt AI-powered analytics dashboard, you can continuously map students’ performance based on –

  • Subjects wise questions
  • Skills-based questions
  • Practical knowledge
  • Theoretical Knowledge

You can understand thoroughly where the student requires your help the most & then bring innovation in your teaching methodologies.  

Ready to take a step ahead?

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FAQs on Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes encourage teachers & students to think about overall development rather than just learning theoretical concepts in the classroom. Learning outcomes help in skill development along with enhancing the knowledge level of students.

Learning outcomes are not confined to Course Outcomes & Program Outcomes (COs-POs) and therefore enable students to be lifelong learners. It helps them develop an out-of-the-box mindset and innovate something for the welfare of society. 

Learning objectives are the educational goals that are aligned with course & program outcomes - COs-POs. Learning objectives are expected to be attained by the end of the academic year/semester/class. Learning objectives are certainly limited to academic activities & focus on enhancing the knowledge of students.

To achieve learning outcomes, one must follow the given steps-

  • The teaching-learning activities must be student-centric
  • The outcomes must be predefined & measurable
  • Activities must focus on doing the action rather than learning theoretical concepts
  • Continuous evaluation of the student performance can be helpful

Balram Korde,

VP Sales and Marketing