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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Writing Effective Outcome Statements

An effective intended outcome statement identifies something specific your unit is aiming to accomplish. While you may have lofty goals for your unit, the intended outcome statements shouldn’t list a grand ideal. Instead, these statements should list the specific outcomes that you hope to achieve (that all together will accomplish your grand ideals). They are descriptions of what will happen that will let you know you are accomplishing your goals.

Learning Outcomes
Operational Outcomes

Learning Outcomes are statements
that identify specific skills or content
that students will master through
a course of study. They align
with University Learning Goals.

Operational Outcomes translate
broader institutional goals
into practical, unit-level
accomplishments that align with
those goals.

The key to either of these kinds of intended outcomes is measurability. Have you defined a desired state that will be easily recognizable when you get there? Will you know how to mark your progress along the way?

Also consider how you are measuring. The most effective intended outcomes are those that state not only what will happen, but some benchmark of how well it will be accomplished. If you want to decrease costs, by how much? If you want to service more students, what percentage increase would you like to see? If you want to see more students achieving a given score on a standardized test, what is your target percentage?

What Outcome Statements Are and Are Not

Outcome statements are specific

Not Like This...
But Like This

By next year we will be more effective.

By year's end we will service fifty more students
a week than we currently do.

Outcome statements can be measured by one measure. Though multiple measures can be advantageous to you (triangulating results), if an intended outcome statement requires more than one measure, it might actually be a statement that includes more than one outcome. Beware of double-barreled outcomes.

Not Like This...
But Like This

Students will be able to research and cite sources and present their findings with an appropriate level of expertise. 

Students will be able to cite research sources according to the guidelines in Chicago Style Manual, 11th edition or later.

Intended Outcome Statements are neither as broad as a goal, nor as specific as one task. They describe the skill or function that will be displayed by the measure.


Not Like This...
But Like This.

Students will be good role models
within the industry
(broad aspiration level).

Students will be able to apply
principles (covered in the program)
within a clinical setting.

Students will be able to complete
a research paper.
(assignment level)

Students will be able to report
findings on current topics 
in the field in a professional manner.



Choosing the Right Assessment Methods

Reporting Your Results

Qualitative Data: Coding for Organization

Quantitative Data: Presenting Findings Visually