Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes (SLOs) are the specified knowledge, skills, abilities or attitudes that students are expected to attain by the end of a learning experience or program of study. With respect to program-level assessment, SLOs should be informed where appropriate by the following:

  • Discipline-related skill set
  • Accreditation and other external accountability expectations
  • Program goals and objectives

Additionally, program level SLOs should be: 

  • Meaningful in helping the program to accomplish its mission.
  • Should be stated in  measurable terms.
  • Should reflect the aggregate by focusing on the program as a whole.
  • Should be  manageable.

Bloom’s Taxonomy for Categorizing Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes describe what we expect students to know and be able to do. Using active verbs facilitates clear student learning outcomes. Bloom’s taxonomy can be used as a guiding framework in the development of student learning outcomes. There are three domains of learning in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

  • Cognitive (mental skills – knowledge)
  • Psychomotor (physical skills)
  • Affective (attitude)

In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl revised the taxonomy to include active verbs that are well suited for outcome-oriented language and workable objectives.

Note: These levels can be helpful in developing learning outcomes because certain verbs are particularly appropriate at each level and not appropriate at other levels (though some verbs are useful at multiple levels). A student might list presidents or proteins or participles to demonstrate that they remember something they learned, but generating a list does not demonstrate (for example) that the student is capable of evaluating the contribution of multiple presidents to American politics or explaining protein folding or distinguishing between active and passive participles.








Bloom’s Definition

Exhibit memory of previously learned material by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts, and answers.

Demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating main ideas.

Solve problems to new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way.

Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. Make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations.

Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria.


Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative

Action Verbs Aligned with Blooms Taxonomy

Following is a list of action verbs that can be used in developing student learning outcome statements.







cite, define, describe, identify, label, list, match, name, outline, quote, recall, report, reproduce, retrieve, show, state, tabulate, and tell.

abstract, arrange, articulate, associate, categorize, clarify, classify, compare, compute, conclude, contrast, defend, diagram, differentiate, discuss, distinguish, estimate, exemplify, explain, extend, extrapolate, generalize, give examples of, illustrate, infer, interpolate, interpret, match, outline, paraphrase, predict, rearrange, reorder, rephrase, represent, restate, summarize, transform, and translate.

apply, calculate, carry out, classify, complete, compute, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, examine, execute, experiment, generalize, illustrate, implement, infer, interpret, manipulate, modify, operate, organize, outline, predict, solve, transfer, translate, and use.

  analyzearrange, break down, categorize, classify, compare, connect, contrast, deconstruct, detect, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, divide, explain, identify, integrate, inventory, order, organize, relate, separate, and structure.

  appraise, apprise, argue, assess, compare, conclude, consider, contrast, convince, criticize, critique, decide, determine, discriminate, evaluate, grade, judge, justify, measure, rank, rate, recommend, review, score, select, standardize, support, test, and validate.

arrange, assemble, build, collect, combine, compile, compose, constitute, construct, create, design, develop, devise, formulate, generate, hypothesize, integrate, invent, make, manage, modify, organize, perform, plan, prepare, produce, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, reorganize, revise, rewrite, specify, synthesize, and write.

Writing Measurable Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcome statements should include the following:

  • verb that identifies the performance to be demonstrated.
  • learning outcome statement that specifies what learning will take place.
  • broad statement reflecting the criterion or standard for acceptable performance.

See examples below. Students will be able to:

Action Verb

Learning Outcome Statement



knowledge of network security

to address cybersecurity risks


knowledge of scientific method

to develop reasonable solutions to address environmental problems.


knowledge of contemporary issues

that impact the small business sector

Learning Outcomes Generators

Learning outcomes checklist

The checklist below can be used to evaluate the quality of your student learning outcome statements. As a general rule, you want to be able to answer yes to all of the questions.

  • Does the outcome support the program goals?
  • Does the outcome describe what the program intends
    for students to know (cognitive), think (affective, attitudinal),
    or do (behavioral, performance)?
  • Is the outcome:
    Detailed and specific?
    A result of learning?
  • Do you have or can you create an activity to enable
    students to learn and demonstrate the desired outcome?
  • Can the results from assessing this outcome be used
    to make decisions on how to improve the program?


Bloom, B. S. (1969).  Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals : Handbook I, Cognitive domain. New York: McKay.

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001).  A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

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