Setting Learning Goals

Nota bene: The terms goals, learning outcomes, and outcomes are all used interchangeably. They represent what you expect students to know and be able to do once they complete the program and/or course.

Program learning goals should be written as “expected learning outcomes,” that is, in terms of observable behavior that demonstrates the knowledge, skills, and competencies that students are expected to achieve upon successful completion of the program or certificate.

Each program should identify 3-5 of its most important learning goals. Each degree and certificate program is responsible for assessing at least one goal annually and for assessing all goals within a five-year cycle. (Programs may use learning outcomes defined by their accrediting bodies if this is more convenient.)

Questions to consider

  • What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you expect graduates of the program to know and be able to do when they complete their degree?
  • How will students be able to demonstrate these capacities?
  • How do these goals reflect the mission and aspirations of the program?
  • What discipline-specific outcomes are required for accreditation?
  • How well does the program prepare students for careers, graduate or professional study, and/or life long learning?