Designing to Meet Course Learning Outcomes

“Those who know where they intend to go have a better chance of getting there” (Undergraduate Program Review Audit Committee, 2006)  

This component provides course design principles related to the best ways to structure your online or blended course to meet course learning outcomes.   

Learning Outcomes (7 min)

In this short video, you will learn about applying the practice of learning outcome alignment in the online and blended teaching environment, as well as the importance of cognitive presence, teacher presence, and social presence.

Next Steps to Consider

The first step of course design is to either construct or revise course learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are statements that clearly describe what students should know, are able to do, and what they should value at the completion of the learning experience.   

Learning outcomes are written from the student’s perspective. They should include verbs that communicate clearly to students the actions relate to knowledge or skills they are attempting to achieve during your course. Here is a resource to help you draft learning outcomes using appropriate verbs:   Learning Outcomes Verbs for Drafting  (.pdf)    


Learning outcomes typically include the following elements:  

  • a short and consistent stem such as “By the end of this course/program,  successful  students will be able to…”  
  • an action verb that identifies the depth of learning expected  
  • a statement of the learning to be demonstrated - addressing the what  
  • a statement of the context in which this learning will occur - addressing the how? or why? 


Learning outcomes are most influential when students can see the connection between intended course outcomes and course requirements (i.e. activities and assessments). Consider taking one of the following approaches for making this connection clear:  

  • list course outcomes and assignments side-by-side to show how each outcome is to be demonstrated  
  • include a paragraph in your syllabus that articulates how students will work towards the learning outcomes  
  • explain the course's learning outcomes to students on the first day of class  
  • revisit learning outcomes regularly throughout the course to show students how course concepts connect to one another  


Here are resources that can help you consider the learning activities, eLearning tools, and assessments that will align with your crafted learning outcomes: Constructive Alignment Chart  (.docx)  as well as to conduct a review of your learning outcomes Reviewing your Learning Outcomes Checklist  (.docx)  

You should align course learning outcomes at the lesson, course, program, or degree level. A connection should be made between the learning that is expected at each of these types. A concept learned in class should connect to the broader outcomes of the course, which in turn contributes to the outcomes of the program and the expectations for the degree completion.   

Designing Online Course Assessments (7 min)

Next Steps to Consider

Once you’ve determined what you want students to accomplish as a result of your course, you will need to plan how students will demonstrate their ability to achieve the learning outcomes. Students do this through assignments and assessments.

These resources can help you explore different types of online assessments and key considerations for choosing assessment types.


Selecting Teaching and Learning Activities (6 min)

This short video covers key considerations in planning activities that will help students demonstrate their successful achievement of course learning outcomes.

Next Steps to Consider

The  eLearning Toolkit  and  OWL Tools for Instructors will help you explore tools for online and blended courses that will facilitate learning activities to support student academic success.  Other resources include:

  1. Planning for Success
  2. Active Learning Strategies
  3. Teaching Critical Thinking 
  4. Figure out the best eLearning tool for your assessments with our Rubric for eLearning Tools



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