thing 11: Student Learning Outcomes

Optional Resources & readings:

Zald, A. E., Gilchrist, D. (2008). Instruction and program design through assessment. In Christopher N. Cox; Elizabeth Blakesley Lindsay, Information Literacy Instruction Handbook 164-192. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.

Stern Cahoy, E. & Schroeder, R. (2012). Embedding Affective Learning Outcomes Into Library Instruction. Communications in Information Literacy, 6(1), 76-90.

Falcone, A. & McCartin, L. (2018). Be critical, but be flexible: Using the Framework to facilitate student learning outcome developmentCollege & Research Libraries News, 79(1), 16-19.

Bixler, B. The ABCDs of Writing Instructional Objectives.

Optional Strategies for writing learning outcomes:


Strategy 1:

The student will be able to + ACTIVE VERB in order to WHY

Ex). The Student will employ multiple search strategies when undertaking research in order to develop flexible, research skills that can be applied in multiple contexts.

Strategy 2:

ABCD: Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree

Ex). When first year students are unable to find relevant sources after 20 minutes of employing different strategies, they will contact a librarian for assistance.


Using the strategies and resources above:

  • Select an assessment target (course, session, orientation, etc) & audience (undergraduate students, graduate students, ELL students, etc)
  • Try writing a new learning outcome or revise an old one to be more Framework-inspired.
  • Bonus points for learning outcomes focused around the dispositions or knowledge practices!
  • Share your assessment target, audience, & outcomes in the comment section below


  1. Assessment Target: Online Activity

    Audience: Undergraduate Students

    Learning Outcome #1: Students will create a properly formatted APA citation for a given source in order to give credit to the original source of the information.

    Learning Outcome #2: Students will identify the author, audience, and intended purpose of information resource in order to organize the information in a meaningful way.

    Learning Outcome #3:Students will apply a list of criteria to a given source in order to determine authority and credibility of the source.


  2. A business market course I frequently teach to undergraduate sophomore/junior students has them coming up with a new product for an existing company. They need to research the macro environment to determine the need for such a product or if it has already been developed. I usually dive right in and show them how to find industry data and company profiles but for this exercise I want to articulate the learning outcomes with the influence of the Framework. Using Searching as Strategic Exploration, here’s what I would like the student to achieve:
    Students will construct a search using demonstrated techniques (Boolean logic, using subject terms, thesaurus) to find a new product or need in an industry, revising their search based on their results.
    Business marketing students will develop a database search for a new product by exploring industry profiles and their projections for new products, making revisions based on their results.

    Classes do not begin until September but it is my hope this can help me be more strategic in my teaching to make sure the concepts are covered, not just the exercise. It’s not just about winning the game, as any hapless athlete can pull off an occasional win, but to develop skills to give strength to their ability to research and evaluate the results to persevere in their scholarship.


  3. This was a great module, as I am currently working on developing a “for credit” library course on fake news and media literacy. For whatever reason, I always struggle creating learning objectives.

    Brief description of the planned course: we want to teach students about fake news, the history of fake news, the nuances behind the catch phrase “fake news,” how to evaluate news sources, and also use the course to weave in the basics of college level research and use it as an introduction to the library.

    Here is the current draft of my learning objectives:

    Students will be familiar with the history of news media and be able to discuss changes to the process of creating information in order to understand the origin of information.

    Students will be familiar with and able to discuss the history of “fake news” and its effect on society in order to reflect on the value of quality information.

    Students will be able to discuss modern media ethics in order to understand the authority and context of a source.

    Students will be able to evaluate media sources and stories in order to strategically explore the origin and value of a source.

    Students will be able to discuss how to be a responsible media consumer in order to better contribute to societal discourse.

    Students will be able to discuss the role of the 1st Amendment in the news media in order to evaluate the tension between the 1st Amendment and attempts to remedy the problem of “fake news.”

    Students will be able to follow the steps of a research inquiry from forming a research question to basic search techniques in order to be prepared for college level research.


  4. Assessment target: student learning
    Audience: ENGL 102 (Writing) students

    Cognitive Learning Outcome:
    After participating in an Information Literacy session, students will be able to identify quality sources among the results of their database search, which are applicable to their research assignment.

    Affective Learning Outcome:
    After participating in an Information Literacy session, student will be more persistent in finding resources, instead of immediately giving up when meeting an obstacle, and feel comfortable seeking assistance from a librarian if the need arises.


  5. Assessment Target: English 12 upgrading course in a one shot session. These are students either getting their high school diploma as adults or bumping up their grade before entering college-level English.

    Outcome:When students in this course find a source that is relevant to their research topic, they will determine if it is a source that is appropriate to use based on the criteria around authority and academic information we discussed in class. (Generally elements like who the author is, what kind of source it is, what the requirements for the assignment are and if the resource meet these requirements).

    This (hopefully) addresses the knowledge practice “use research tools and indicators of authority to determine the credibility of sources, understanding the elements that might temper this credibility” and, depending on the assignment I’m teaching to, the practice “recognize that authoritative content may be packaged formally or informally and may include sources of all media types” under Authority is Constructed and Contextual.


  6. Audience: undergraduate students participating in a one-shot library orientation (they may have experienced this orientation multiple times throughout their undergraduate career)

    Assessment target: one-shot library orientation offered in various courses across campus; this orientation has been structured and designed to allow for flexibility that different courses need, ex. different citation styles used, different example databases, etc.

    I’m working within the Dispositions of the Frame – Authority is Constructed and Contextual.

    My outline for the SLO is a slightly-modified ABCD. My goal with this SLO is to help students overcome the feelings that accompany the Exploration portion of Kulthau’s ISP model and push through to Formulation and Collection more rapidly.

    How would I assess? via a self-reporting question on the post-instructional assessment, OR with the instructor’s permission, have the students follow up with me after the instruction and after they begin their research

    SLO: The student will be able to competently/confidently evaluate sources for their topic by using one (or more) of the evaluation models discussed and practiced during the library orientation.


  7. Assessment Target: Library workshop for Advanced Searching

    Framework: Searching As Strategic Exploration

    Disposition: Learners who are developing their information literate abilities exhibit mental flexibility and curiosity.

    Learning Outcome #1: At the end of 50 minute workshop, students will be able to develop a clinical question to use while exploring databases for relevant evidence that addresses the question.

    Learning Outcome #2:They will demonstrate their ability to refine the question and rerun the search using more discipline-specific terminology or subject headings discovered while browsing through the results from the first search.

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  8. Target audience: Students in an Introduction to Social & Behavioral Sciences course (in very early development–I have been asked to take part in the design)

    Inspiration: “Realize that information sources vary greatly in context and format and have varying relevance and value, depending on the needs and nature of the search” (Searching as Strategic Exploration frame, Dispositions)

    Learning Outcome 1*: After viewing a source types tutorial, students will use Academic Search Complete’s Source Type limiter in order to choose a sample journal article and a sample newspaper article.

    Learning Outcome 2: Using the Article Comparison worksheet** students will contrast their newspaper article with their journal article in order to understand the characteristics of each type.

    *Since I was taught to use only one verb per outcome, I have written two separate outcomes.

    **I have a worksheet that I use for a similar exercise.


  9. Assessment target: One shot session of library instruction

    Audience: ENG 101 or ENG 175, English Composition or English Literature classes that meet the Core
    Curriculum requirements for all Providence College Students

    Cognitive learning outcome: Manage searching processes and results effectively from “Searching as Strategic Exploration”

    Disposition from Framework: “Understand that first attempts do not always produce adequate results”

    During a 50-75 minute library instruction session,
    -students will be able to organize their research in order to ensure that they can find the results or similar results when they resume the process another day.
    -students will be able to recognize when some of their research is not useful or reliable, and if they are unsure they will contact the professor or librarian for assistance.


  10. Audience: undergraduate students
    Assessment target: library session on fake news for a philosophy class

    After attending the library session students will:
    -Reflect on how their own perspective & position relates to the perspective presented in information sources they encounter
    -Employ one of the techniques shown during the session (fact-checking sites, tracing the original source, evaluating claims, questioning authority/perspective) when they encounter fake news (or other dubious information) on social media


  11. Cognitive learning outcome for Frameworks “Research as Inquiry” and/or “Searching as Strategic Exploration” using the ABCD strategy for writing learning outcomes for a 50-minute library session:

    Students in the first-year writing seminar who have been given a clear research paper writing prompt will be able to use two different library databases to find four sources that are relevant to their topic.

    Affective learning outcome (disposition of action):

    During a 50-minute library instruction class, after students have tried unsuccessfully to search for articles for their research project for ten minutes, they will ask the reference librarian for assistance.



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