Writing Learning Outcomes for ACUI Education

Defining Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are statements of what is expected individuals will value, be able to do, or know as a result of participating in an educational activity, such as attending a seminar or webinar, reading a publications, networking with peers, or using a resource.

Learning outcomes are centered on participants and their learning, which is different than:

  • Operational outcomes (i.e., related to the steps necessary to achieve outcomes, such as program attendance, satisfaction, or revenue)
  • Program outcomes (i.e., related to the aggregate effect of a program, such as enhanced community-building on campus or a more competent college union profession) 

Learning outcomes should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Results-oriented
  • Time-bound

 Levels of learning outcomes (Bloom’s revised taxonomy)

  • Remember (ability to recognize or recall information)
  • Understand (ability to explain or interpret information)
  • Apply (ability to implement or utilize information practically)
  • Analyze (ability to organize or differentiate information)
  • Evaluate (ability to critique or assess information)
  • Create (ability to generate or produce information)
 

Types of learning outcomes

Attitudes: Affective outcomes related to feelings and emotions

Examples of attitudes relevant to ACUI members:

  • Believes that effective organizations require good leadership
  • Acknowledges that communication is essential for effective supervision
  • Values inclusive policies and procedures as a means to promote community and participation 

Skills: Psychomotor outcomes related to abilities and action)

Examples of skills relevant to ACUI members:

  • Resolves conflict with effective interpersonal and decision-making practices
  • Reviews and creates contracts and requests for proposals
  • Manages facility maintenance, upkeep, and housekeeping 

Knowledge: Cognitive outcomes related to thinking and acquisition of information)

Examples of knowledge relevant to ACUI members:

  • Can define the social change model of leadership development and its components
  • Understands the components of the identity development theories
  • Identifies the relevant laws and legal issues related to risk management  

Resources for Learning Outcomes

For information about the standards ACUI members are responsible for utilizing, review the various Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) documents, such as:

Steps to writing learning outcomes for ACUI programs

1.     Identify a topic for a program, session, or publication

Example: Communication planning for an emergency

2.     Brainstorm a list of practical attitudes, skills, and knowledge ACUI members would need related to the topic.

  • Knowledge of potential communication tools
  • Documentation of procedures for communication
  • Key roles of staff members
  • Preparing for potential threats and emergencies

3.     Third, consult the definitions of the ACUI Core Competencies and identify those that are relevant.

  • Communication
  • Planning

4.     Fourth, click on the relevant competencies to review the associated skill sets to identify specific examples of skills and knowledge identified for the profession that relate to the previously brainstormed list. An overview the ACUI Core Competencies and Skill Sets is also available.

  • Communication > Written Communication > Knowledge of appropriate forms of business communication and appropriate use of electronic and computer mediated communication systems
  • Planning > Prepare for the Unexpected > Ability to anticipate the unexpected and work within the unit to develop a response plan

5.     Fifth, adapt the language directly from the associated skill sets to be specific to the content of the educational activity

  • Appropriate communication systems to implement emergency response plans
  • Anticipate potential emergencies that could occur in a college union
  • Create response plans for the department

Use targeted action verbs specific to the attitudes, skills, and knowledge that are will be obtained as a result of attending the program.

  • Avoid general, unmeasurable verbs like appreciate, become aware of, become familiar with, know, learn, understand, etc.
  •  Use this list of action verbs for ideas.

6.     Sixth, if appropriate for the educational activity, quantify the degree to which the outcome will be achieved by participants.

  • Four appropriate communication systems to implement emergency response plans

7.     Seventh, categorize the learning outcomes as being an attitude, skill, or knowledge

  • Knowledge outcome: Four appropriate communication systems to implement emergency response plans
  • Skill outcomes: Anticipate potential emergencies that could occur in a college union; Create response plans for the department

8.     Finally, now that the learning outcomes are identified, format them for publication. Complete learning outcomes should also identify the condition by which the outcome will be achieved and the audience who are to achieve the outcome.

  • As a result of attending this online learning program, participants will know:

          o   Four appropriate communication systems to implement emergency response plans 

  • As a result of attending this online learning program, participants will be able to:

          o   Anticipate potential emergencies that could occur in a college union

          o   Create response plans for the department

 

Updated Dec. 4, 2015