Course Level Student Learning Outcomes

A. Learning Outcomes for a Course Proposal 
Course learning outcomes state what students are expected to know or be able to do upon completion of a course. Course learning outcomes may contribute, or map to, program learning outcomes, and are required in group instruction course syllabi. Courses typically should have 3-5 course learning outcomes.

The course learning outcomes included in a course proposal are an integral part of the course and all outcomes must be a part of all offerings of the course (regardless of modality, term, instructor, section, credits, etc.). In the syllabus for a particular term, the instructor may add section level learning outcomes in addition to the governance-approved course learning outcomes.

Course Learning Outcomes:

  • are clear, observable, and measurable
  • reflect how students will be assessed through activities such as participation, assignments, exams,
  • typically relate to one or more program learning outcomes
  • meet the campus format requirements
    • 400 characters or less per learning outcome
    • Must be in English
    • No special characters (accents, umlauts, ) It is fine to use special characters etc. in the syllabus document.
    • No formatting (bullets, dashes, )
    • Don’t include “Students will …” this assumed/implied.

C. UW-Madison Course Learning Outcomes Policy 
In the Criteria for Accreditation, the Higher Learning Commission requires "clearly stated goals for student learning and effective processes for assessment of student learning and achievement of learning goals." For course learning outcomes, the syllabus is the place where the goals and assessment are explained.
According to the UW-Madison 2015 Assessment Plan “All courses offered at UW-Madison must have course syllabi with course objectives and student learning goals clearly articulated.” (For more about the 2015 Assessment Plan see:
Course learning outcomes are common to each offering of a course regardless of instructor, mode of instruction, etc. These learning outcomes are included in the proposal for a new course and may subsequently be updated through the course change proposal process. An instructor may have additional learning outcomes for a specific offering of a course but these may not be in place of the established course learning outcomes. If a course is part of the requirements for a particular degree/major or certificate one or more of the learning outcomes could relate to the program learning outcomes.
Each time a course is offered the established course learning outcomes must be included on the syllabus
D. Resources 
The UW-Madison Guide includes program level learning outcomes for each undergraduate and graduate degree/major offered.
Undergraduate General Education requirements also have requirement specific learning outcomes.

E. Guidelines, Roles, and Responsibilities 
After the initial implementation of Lumen Programs, Student Learning Assessment (SLA) and Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) offices received feedback that the learning outcomes process was confusing. SLA and APIR created a roles and responsibilities document for Lumen Programs and determined it would be helpful for one in Lumen Courses as well. The Clarification of Guidelines and Roles for Learning Outcomes in Lumen Courses document explains the basic principles for learning outcomes in Lumen Courses and the role of SLA and APIR.

Keywords:learning outcomes   Doc ID:43346
Owner:Melissa S.Group:Courses and Academic Programs
Created:2014-09-02 14:02 CDTUpdated:2021-04-22 12:52 CDT
Sites:Courses and Academic Programs
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