Learning outcomes say what students should be able to do upon completion of the major. While students are expected to grow in many ways and to develop their own interests and talents, every department or program should define a few key outcomes that all students in the major are expected to accomplish and that the department will assess to determine the effectiveness of its academic program.
Learning outcomes are written in the form:
Students should be able to <action verb> <object>.
Use just one action verb and one object to make the outcome assessable. State the outcome in language a student is likely to understand.
<Department/program> majors should be able to:
Produce sound philosophical discourse.
Analyze a literary text.
Translate prose from Latin into English.
Critique a mathematical argument.
Design an experiment to test a hypothesis.
Describe monuments of art in historical context.
Design a performance environment for the production of a play.
Use tools of economic theory to analyze an economic problem.
High-level outcomes provide a sense of mission and overarching goals but are difficult to assess. Specific outcomes are easier to assess but fail to communicate an overall purpose or direction. A useful strategy is to define one or more high-level outcomes for the major and then to define specific components. Each component can become a category in a rubric or a separate task to be assessed.
Economics majors should be able to develop an economic analysis. Specifically, students should be able to:
Formulate a problem for economic analysis;
Find relevant literature that bears on the problem;
Interpret quantitative evidence and regression analyses;
Quality standards for performance are spelled out in rubrics (see "How to Assess" below).
Define learning outcomes for every major offered by the department or program. There is likely to be overlap, but there should also be differences that distinguish the majors.
Focus on a few key outcomes that are expected of all students and that will be assessed. Students should go beyond these outcomes in individual ways.
Avoid duplicating GER outcomes. For example, "Students will be able to follow disciplinary conventions when writing or speaking" is a GER outcome that can be assessed along with major outcomes when evaluating a Senior Experience.
State outcomes with just one action verb and one object. For high-level outcomes, define the components.
State outcomes plainly so that students, faculty, and others can understand what they mean and agree when they have been achieved.