Learning outcomes are learner-facing statements that express what a learner will be ‘better able to do’ by the time they have finished their learning. All FutureLearn courses have learning outcomes.
Broad learning outcomes/objectives for the entire course are submitted at the course proposal stage and they appear on the Course Description Page (CDP) and certificate transcripts. We suggest you also include them within the course itself to clearly demonstrate what will be happening and help learners track their progress.
Learning outcomes help partners:
- structure course design by identifying and expressing what will happen in the course
- keep aligned during long-form course content development
- providing focus for assessment (informal or formal).
Learning outcomes help learners by:
- making clear what is happening in the course through easily understandable and relatable statements
- expressing learning in a format that matches style expected in academic or professional settings
- providing a touchpoint for learners to self-assess their progress.
During Quality Assurance (QA) review course content is checked against stated learning outcomes: Learner Journey QA criteria.
Insert your learning outcomes into Course Creator
Your learning outcomes are submitted within your course proposal but these do not pull through to the course shell. You must insert these manually.
- Select the 'Details' tab within your course run.
- Click on ‘learning outcomes’ listed in pink below ‘Team roles and permissions’.
- Select an active verb from the drop-down menu.
- Insert the full Learning Outcome, including the active verb, in the ‘outcome text’ space provided.
- Press save.
Insert learning outcomes into ExpertTracks and Microcredentials
- In the programs tab, find the ExpertTrack, select edit program.
- Click on the pink button ‘Manage learning outcomes’.
- Follow the same instructions as above - selecting an active verb from the drop-down.
- Insert your learning outcomes into degrees at program run level.
- We recommend 3-10 learning outcomes for each course run.
- Outline what learners will actively be able to do or demonstrate using active verbs, this does not include ‘learn’ or ‘understand’ (see below).
- Learning outcomes should be different to the course syllabus i.e. ‘what content does this course cover?’ on the course proposal.
- Map out clearly and explicitly what learners will do in a course. Focus on what it is the learners are doing rather than what is being presented. This is learner-centred learning design.
- Design your course identifying learning objectives for each week and activity which connect to the overarching learning outcomes of the course.
For an ExpertTrack map out clear and different learning outcomes for each course. Select the key learning outcomes from these for the ExpertTrack overall (insert into the shell).
All learning outcomes start with an active verb. Unsure of the correct active verb? Consider what the outcome is describing or indicating that learners will do.
- Acquisition and preparation of tools, materials, and texts of various types (including digital and archival): collect.
- To certify information, materials, texts: record.
- Characterize or exhibit knowledge: classify, describe, identify.
- Processing data and allied information: calculate, solve.
- Explaining a position, creation, set of observations, or a text: explain, interpret.
- Cognitive activities we group under “analyse”: compare.
- Inquiring: experiment, explore, investigate, model.
- Combine ideas, materials, observations: synthesise, summarise.
- Various forms of “making”: design, develop.
- Utilize the materials of learning: apply, demonstrate, perform, produce.
- Executive functions learners perform: engage, lead.
- Deliberative activity in which learners engage: debate, justify.
- Evaluate objects, experiences and texts: assess, evaluate.
- Engaging in communication: report.
- Communicating in groups: collaborate, contribute, discuss.
- Rethinking or reconstructing: improve, modify, reflect.
More about learning outcomes
The most widely accepted and implemented framework for learning outcomes is derived from Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Bloom, 1956).
This presents a tiered/staged & progressive taxonomy moving through Knowledge; Comprehension; Application; Analysis; Synthesis & Evaluation. A series of verbs are aligned with each of these levels, through which outcome statements are created. The exact structure is often varied across institutions, the core verb-construct form is fairly universal:
“[As a learner/upon completion of this course/module/programme of study]
you will be able to/you will be able to demonstrate you can
The FutureLearn platform adopts this approach. The Course Description Page includes the heading: What will you achieve? By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
Drawing on the work of Adelman (2015), FutureLearn has introduced a small number of verbs from a broader number of meta-categories than Bloom’s six (outlined above).
Our recommendation to connect week and activity learning objectives to overall course learning outcomes is constructive alignment. It’s a way of making sure everything in a course joins up and the course does what it has set out to do.
Find out more about writing learning objectives/outcomes in steps Overall learner-facing course objectives and What makes a great activity? in How to Create a Great FutureLearn course. Contact your Partnership Manager for access.
Screenshots from Course Creator
Select an active verb from the drop down:
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our glossary.
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