Project Description & Outcome/Learning Objectives

Project Description: Briefly describe the question, problem, or proposed experience explored through this independent study. This can be taken from your initial proposal; including any changes suggested at your proposal meeting.

Outcomes/Learning Objectives: Learning outcomes are statements of what you will learn as a result of this independent study. These statements are focused on your learning rather than on what you will do. Consider it this way: you do to learn. For example, you jump rope for twenty minutes to get your heart rate up. The activity (jumping rope) gets you to your outcome (higher heart rate). You can include the activity in the outcome to show how the outcome is achieved. Some important points to consider:

  • Outcomes/learning objectives need to be measurable.
  • To write an outcome that is measurable, use action words in the outcome/learning objective. An action word connotes an observable behavior; behavioral verb.
  • What then are behavioral verbs? The answer is quite simple. A behavioral verb is a word that denotes an observable action, or the creation of an observable product. Verbs such as identify, name, describe, analyze, and create are behavioral because you can observe the act or product of identifying, naming, describing, analyzing, and creating.
  • Consider an outcome for research; for process; for product; and for assessment.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (published in 1956 and revised in 2001) gives you a way to express learning outcomes in a way that reflects cognitive skills.

There are five levels (lowest to highest cognitive skills):

  • Knowledge/remembering
  • Comprehension/understanding
  • Application/applying
  • Analysis/analyzing
  • Evaluation/evaluating
  • Synthesis/creating

You can use Bloom’s taxonomy to identify verbs to describe student learning. Examples of learning outcomes verbs include:

  • Knowledge/Remembering: define, list, recognize
  • Comprehension/Understanding:characterize, describe, explain, identify, locate, recognize, sort
  • Application/Applying: choose, demonstrate, implement, perform
  • Analysis/Analyzing: analyze, categorize, compare, differentiate
  • Evaluation/Evaluating: assess, critique, evaluate, rank, rate
  • Synthesis/Creating: construct, design, formulate, organize, synthesize

For a complete list of verbs check out: Blooms Level Chart with Definitions-Verbs-Behaviors

There are some verbs to avoid when writing learning outcomes. These verbs are vague and often not observable or measurable. For example, how would you measure whether someone has “become familiar with” a particular tool? Use a more specific verb. If you want students to “understand” something, think more closely about what you want them to be able to do or produce as a result of their “understanding.”

Verbs to avoid:

  • Understand
  • Appreciate
  • Know about
  • Become familiar with
  • Learn about
  • Become aware of