Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives articulate the knowledge/skills that your students should acquire by the end of the course. Course-level learning objectives should capture the big-picture view of your course (e.g., what basic knowledge/skills do I want my students to have 6 months after they leave my course?). You may also have learning objectives for specific class sessions, but your syllabus need not list those.

Learning objectives should be:

  • Student-centered (e.g., “By the end of this course, students should be able to ____”)
  • Actionable (e.g., “apply”, “describe”, “identify”, etc. so you can observe it)
  • Measurable (e.g., what would students do differently if they achieved the objective?) 

If you would like ideas for actionable verbs to include in your learning objectives, consider using Bloom’s Taxonomy. The headings above each group of verbs correspond to the levels of intellectual activity.  

To see examples of learning objectives from your college/discipline, please see this list.

For a review of the literature regarding the educational value of learning objectives, please see this synthesis.

alignment triangle
Alignment among learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities ensures an internally consistent structure.
Ensure that your learning objectives are “aligned” with your course assessments (i.e., your course assessments accurately measure whether students are achieving the learning objectives). If these two course components are misaligned, then you’ll need to make adjustments to one or the other. Also ensure that your instructional activities (e.g., what you do during class) are aligned with your course learning objectives and assessments. For additional information, see our course alignment page


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