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Goal Examples

Curricular goals may be harder for departments and programs to craft than learning outcomes because the former can seem quite vague whereas the latter point to both very specific skills and knowledge and to very specific ways of demonstrating what the student knows and can do. It may be useful to think of curricular goals as pointing to the processes by which students will learn and of learning outcomes as the products of their learning.

To help departments and programs rework curricular goals if desired, two lists of example curricular goals are provided here, the first list based on verbs that describe what a program will do and the second list based on verbs that describe what a student will do or what will happen to the student. In each case the verb is the most important element of the goal and following words in parentheses suggest how a department or program might flesh out the goal.

A department or program will:

  • Demonstrate (that something is true or how something works)
  • Expose (students to ideas)
  • Facilitate (student understanding)
  • Foster (characteristics in students)
  • Guide (students in understanding or accomplishing something)
  • Help (students do or understand something)
  • Highlight (an academic area, particular knowledge, or particular skills)
  • Introduce (ideas or skills)
  • Invite (students to do or learn something)
  • Offer (experiences, perspectives)
  • Point toward (resources for students)
  • Present (material)
  • Promote (ways to do things, the value of particular knowledge or skills)
  • Provide (information, skills, experiences, resources)
  • Teach (information, skills)

Students will:

  • Become familiar with/aware of (ideas, disciplinary areas, resources)
  • Broaden (their perspectives)
  • Carry out (activities)
  • Consider (ideas, perspectives)
  • Contemplate (ideas, strategies for doing something)
  • Discover (information, ideas)
  • Engage in (activities)
  • Examine (ideas, information, perspectives)
  • Expand/deepen (their understanding of something)
  • Experience (things)
  • Explore (ideas, academic areas)
  • Gain experience in (an academic area, a skill)
  • Have (experiences)
  • Increase knowledge about (a topic, an area)
  • Learn (about something, that something is true, how to do something)
  • Participate in (activities)
  • Practice (doing something)
  • Understand (knowledge, how to do something)
  • Undertake (activities)

Note that in the second list above, "understand" is a perfectly reasonable example of a curricular goal but is not a good example of a learning outcome because it is not the kind of verb that demonstrates clearly what a student knows or what the student can do. A student would demonstrate that she understands a piece of knowledge by (for example) explaining it to someone else, and a student would demonstrate that he understands how to read a paragraph in a non-native language by (for example) summarizing the paragraph aloud in English without an English translation in front of him. In these cases, the right verbs for the learning outcome level would be "explain" and "summarize."

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020