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. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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


  4. 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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