Learning Outcomes that Lead to Student Success 

What are learning outcomes and why do you need them?

There’s a famous misquote from Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” The same is true in our courses: if you don’t know what you want your students to learn, it doesn’t really matter how or what you teach them. Every instructor wants to ensure student success, but if we as instructors don’t have accurate and well-thought-out learning outcomes, what does success mean in our classes? Creating learning outcomes should be a collaborative process where instructors responsible for teaching a course come together to craft these statements based on the most important learning in a course, taking care to maintain a balance between critical thinking and base knowledge while keeping an eye toward what makes a learning outcome an achievable learning goal.

Learning outcome creation

Before you create course learning outcomes

  • If your course is part of a program, you should ensure that the learning outcomes mesh with the rest of the program to meet all program learning outcomes.
  • Plan collaboratively with colleagues teaching the same course. All learning outcomes for sections taught of the same course should have the same learning outcomes according to the HLC (Higher Learning Commission) criteria 3a.
  • With colleagues, determine and list the most important learning or skills that will take place in this course.
  • Whittle down the list if it is too large. Consider what you and your colleagues can reasonably accomplish during the semester.
  • Pay attention to the conversation around Generative AI. What your students need to know and do may change because of the rapid development of AI.

Considerations as you create your learning outcomes

  1. Keep assessment and, therefore, your verb choices in the forefront of your mind. As you write learning outcomes, you want to ensure that the learning outcomes contain actions that can be demonstrated. When you ask students to “understand” something, this is difficult to demonstrate. If they “explain” it instead, that is an action that can be done and measured in various ways.
  2. Keep Bloom’s Taxonomy next to you as you create. It makes sense to use a taxonomy when writing outcomes. In Bloom’s model, skills and verbs on the bottom of the pyramid are less complex or intellectually demanding than those at the top of the pyramid; keep in mind they may still be totally appropriate, especially for lower-level courses. More critical thinking skills are required for those skills at the top of the pyramid, but it is useful and acceptable to use verbs and abilities from all levels of the pyramid. If you are teaching an upper-level course, you don’t want to draw all your verbs and skills from Bloom’s Taxonomy’s knowledge level. You should be using some higher levels in Bloom’s system.  The chart below can be a guide as you create those learning outcomes and note that generative AI developments may make the original chart problematic in different ways. There are alternatives to Blooms, as well.

    Alternatives to Blooms Taxonomy levels and verbs.
    Newtonsneurosci, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, v Wikimedia Commons
  3. Use SMART Goals also. In addition to including Bloom’s Taxonomy as part of your learning outcomes, we encourage you to make sure that your learning outcomes are created using the SMART goals model.   SMART goals were developed in 1981 by George Duran, who noticed that most business goals were not created in a way that could be implemented effectively.

SMART is an acronym we can use to describe the attributes of effective learning outcomes for your students. Please note that you will find different versions of the acronyms in the SMART goal model, but these are the ones CATL uses to discuss learning outcomes:

    • Specific – target a specific area, skill, or knowledge
    • Measurable – progress is quantifiable
    • Attainable – able to be achieved or realistic
    • Relevant – applicable to the students in the class
    • Time-based – achieved in a specific timeframe, such as a semester

Example: By the end of the semester (T), students will be able to diagram (M) the process of photosynthesis (S, A) in this biology class (R).

Learning outcomes are more likely to be meaningful if they can meet all of the qualifiers in the SMART acronym. Think specifics as you create your learning outcome. If you can’t tell if your learning outcome meets one of the qualifiers, you should rework it until it does.

Review your learning outcomes

Your next step as a team should be to review your learning outcomes. Compare them to the SMART model and Bloom’s Taxonomy or any other relevant model you might be using. If it helps, consider these examples. First, “Students will improve their understanding of passive voice.” On the surface, it might look like a reasonable goal, but then as you ask, “What does it mean to improve? Where did the student start from? When does this need to be done by?” This goal offers no answers to those questions.

How about this one? “By the end of the semester, all students will receive a 100% score on their math notation quiz.” For context, this is a Writing Foundations course. That begs the question, is this outcome relevant to this group of students? Is 100% a reasonable and attainable goal?

Consider these questions as a guide when creating SMART goals. A more reasonable goal for this group of writing students is that by the end of the semester, students will be able to identify and accurately and effectively use scholarly research in their writing projects 80% of the time. One part of the review process is ensuring your outcomes are SMART, but there are additional elements to consider, including the questions below.

  • Can you identify the verb in your learning outcome?
  • If your students master the skills in your learning outcomes, will they be satisfactorily prepared to go to another course that teaches the next level of this material?
  • If this is a course in a series, have you checked to be sure that your outcomes make sense with the previous and next courses?
  • Has your unit done curriculum mapping for its goals, and do your course outcomes align with that mapping?

Put it all together

Creating learning outcomes that reflect the learning necessary to achieve mastery in a course can be an arduous process. It should be a collaborative process as well. We encourage you to reach out to the CATL team if you would like guidance or help walking through Bloom’s Taxonomy and the SMART goal model. We are always available to help!

Resources on creating learning outcomes

Generative Artificial Intelligence: Updates and Articles for Instructors

Welcome to our GAI resource-sharing blog page! Here you’ll find some of the latest updates and articles on generative AI, curated especially for faculty and instructional staff. While there are numerous resources available out there, CATL will share a select, timely sample of articles and perspectives to help instructors stay informed about new changes in AI technology and education.

For more in-depth, instructor-focused articles on generative AI by CATL, explore our AI Toolbox Articles.

Table of Contents

Generative AI Tools Directory

Stay updated on the different AI tools being created and discover what your peers or fields might be using!

(Resources in this section are updated biannually)

May 2023 – June 2024

  • Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning, May 2023. This report by the Office of Educational Technology provides insights on how AI can be integrated into education practices, and recommended responses for educators.
  • The AI Index Report: Measuring trends in AI, April 2024. Created by the Institute for Human-Centered AI at Stanford University, this report provides an analysis of AI trends and metrics, including important insights into the current state and future direction of AI for educators grappling with the rapidly evolving technology and what it means for their teaching practices.
  • AI in 2024: Major Developments & Innovations, Jan. 3, 2024. This article provides a timeline of AI developments during 2023 and newest updates in 2024.
  • 2024 AI Business Predictions, 2024. This report by PwC describes how businesses are preparing for and incorporating AI, with predictions on future trends and AI strategies in the corporate world.

Monthly Resources for Educators

(Resources in this section are updated for each month)

June 2024

Tips for Teachers

  • If you haven’t signed into Copilot with your UWGB account, now is the time! Microsoft Copilot, accessible through any browser and soon integrated into Windows 11, avoids using your personal email, which makes it a better alternative for classes. It doesn’t require providing, for example, a personal cellphone number for use, and it is available to all UWGB faculty, staff, and students with an institutional login and ID. Copilot also offers enhanced data protection when logged in using your UWGB account, although FERPA-protected and personally identifiable information should still not be entered. Watch this short video on how to log in. Remember, use any AI tool responsibly and always vet outputs for accuracy.

Latest Educational Updates

  • Latest AI Announcements Mean Another Big Adjustment for Educators, June 6, 2024. This article from EdSurge recaps some of the latest AI advancements that will heavily impact education and provides advice from instructors and ed tech experts on how to adapt.
  • AI Detectors Don’t Work. Here’s What to Do Instead, 2024. MIT’s Teaching & Learning Technologies Center critiques AI detection software and suggests better alternatives. The article advocates for clear guidelines, open dialogue, creative assignment design, and equitable assessment practices to effectively engage students and maintain academic standards.

May 2024

Tip for Teachers

  • Subscribe to the “One Useful Thing” blog by Ethan Mollick, an Associate Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Generative AI Lab at Wharton.

Latest Educational Updates

Latest AI Tech Advancements

Using the Lightboard (eGlass) to Create Engaging Videos

photo of the lightboard studio 505B doorway.

What is the Lightboard Recording Studio?

Kaltura Video Tutorial: eGlass (Lightboard) Basics

UWGB instructors and students can reserve and use the Lightboard (eGlass) studio located on the 5th floor of the Cofrin Library (CL 505 B). The lightboard functions like a transparent whiteboard. You write on one side of it, and a camera records you from the other side.

Potential Use Cases

The lightboard can be a valuable tool for presenting complex materials, such as mathematical formulas or diagrams. By allowing presenters to write or draw while explaining content, it provides helpful visuals that enhance understanding, making it ideal for engaging students and simplifying complex topics.

It can also be used to facilitate ‘flipped learning.’ In this case, students receive scaffolded instruction outside of the classroom and class time is then reserved for discussion or activities in which students apply concepts to further engage with the subject matter.

Tips for Before You Record

Before you record your video using the lightboard, consider the following planning tips:

  • Keep it short. Lightboard videos should be a single topic that can fit easily on a single board. If your video requires constant erasing, it is likely too long.
  • Organize your content. Develop a structured outline or script and rehearse your video beforehand to ensure preparedness and to streamline the recording process.
  • Practice writing before you record. Spacing can be an issue on the lightboard so it is a good idea to practice laying out any complex drawings or text that you want to use in your video ahead of time. You could practice on a whiteboard or on the lightboard itself before recording.
  • Clothing choice. Dark, solid colors (grey, navy, deep reds, etc.) are best. The markers you use for the board are neon colors and tend to blend in with light shades, becoming hard to read. Avoid wearing black so you don’t blend in with the background and don’t wear clothing with large logos or lettering (the writing/logo of your shirt will be flipped and might be a potential distraction in the video).

Tips for Recording Your Video

During the recording process, keep the following tips in mind to enhance the quality and effectiveness of your video.

  • Do a quick mic-check. Consider recording a quick 10-30 second video to ensure that the microphone, camera, lightboard brightness and settings are functioning properly.
  • Stay close to the eGlass lightboard. Stepping away from the board will reduce the amount of light that hits your face and may also affect the camera focus, making you appear blurry.
  • Try to leave room for yourself as you write on the glass. Be mindful of space as you draw and write on the board. Move to the side as you write and try to not cover your face with text.
  • Point and emphasize content. When you are speaking about something specific on the board, point to it, circle it, or underline it to draw attention to that specific item.
  • Look at the camera when recording. When you are not drawing or writing, address the camera as it represents your audience.
  • Have fun with it and enjoy the process! Having fun while making these videos will make for more engaging content.

Reserving the Room

Reserve and check out the room through the UWGB library reservation system.

  • Note: Please call the UWGB IT Service Desk at 920-465-2309 or report issues to gbit@uwgb.edu if you encounter technical difficulties with the studio computer or lightboard hardware.

Related Resources & Alternative Recording Methods

Teaching Strategy Spotlight – Escape Rooms Help Students See That Chemistry Doesn’t Have to Be Scary! 

a smiling woman with blonde hair wearing a black shirt
Breeyawn Lybbert, Associate Professor of Chemistry


Professor Breeyawn Lybbert has been teaching at UWGB for the last 5 years. Professor Lybbert started at the UW Colleges in Manitowoc in 2014, after having worked previously at the University of Minnesota Morris. She went to the University of Minnesota for her bachelor’s degree and earned her PhD from UCLA. She has a special love of Organic Chemistry, which is also the focus of her dissertation.


an office door covered in strips of caution tapeWhen Professor Lybbert began thinking about escape rooms, they were all the rage. She discovered an article in the Journal of Chemistry Education, which described, in detail, a Lab-Based Chemical Escape Room. The article describes a scenario in which four bombs are set to explode unless the chemists in the room are able to neutralize them. The scenario presented used the kinds of puzzles those familiar with escape rooms might be used to, but in order to solve these puzzles, chemistry knowledge would also come into play. This is what Professor Lybbert used as a guide to create her own physical escape room inside her classroom. More than just creating a fun activity, she created an environment designed to immerse her students in the escape room, complete with yellow caution tape, scary music, and a countdown timer. Her students get a full hour to work as a team to solve this puzzle.

a chemistry classroom with a counting down timer on a projector screen

Why Is It Important?

Professor Lybbert uses this activity in her Chem 109 class, a class that is not geared toward chemistry majors. The students who take this class are often anxious about the content of the class and their ability to master it. This activity comes at the end of the class and manages to demonstrate to students how much they’ve learned about chemistry, even with all of their apprehension. While the professor says students are often confused at the beginning of the exercise, they become invested and work together to solve the puzzles and escape. At the end of the escape room, they complete a survey of their thoughts on the experience, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. They feel that it’s a nice way to round out a hard class.

How Does It Benefit Students?

manila envelopes and notebooks on a black tableStudents have the opportunity to use the knowledge they’ve gained throughout the course of the semester in a low-stakes (but heightened-intensity) lab activity that gives them the chance to reflect on their learning once the adrenaline has passed. Although not perfectly a real-world scenario, students do realize that they can use their knowledge when the time counts!

What Inspires Your Work?

Professor Lybbert says that her students’ reactions inspire her work. Students realize that they have mastered and applied knowledge and skills that likely seemed very daunting when they started her class. They realize through this activity that chemistry really isn’t so scary and that makes it worth it.

Want to Try It?

The resources below include the article that inspired Bree Lybbert, along with some other articles that link to puzzles and more tips for creating your own escape room.

Share with Your Colleagues

Do you have a strategy you’d like to share with your colleagues? Send a quick email to catl@uwgb.edu and we will follow up with you to create your teaching strategy spotlight! We would love to hear from you!

Teaching Strategy Spotlight – Comics in the Classroom

Zack Kruse Teaching Spotlight

Zack Kruse, Lecturer for Applied Writing and English


POW speech bubble

Professor Kruse earned his undergraduate degree in 2004 and then worked in the comics industry for a decade. He went on to earn his PhD from Michigan State in English, focusing in visual media and American Cultural Studies. His dissertation was published by University Press in Mississippi. That book, Mysterious Travelers: Steve Ditko and the Search for a New Liberal Identity was nominated for an Eisner award. Professor Kruse is also writing for a comic series called Static, one of Steve Ditko’s creations, and he wrote a comic strip called Mystery Solved! which appeared in Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. He is in the process of creating a documentary based on the books of Steve Ditko.


Comic books are an enduring form of storytelling that several instructors on our campus are using. Professor Kruse’s classroom strategy is using comic books both as literature in English classes and to teach visual literacy in writing foundations courses. Zack also teaches a first-year seminar focused on comic books and American culture. The comics are used to convey ideas about society using characters and ideas that students are more familiar with. It meets the students “where they are” and gives a diverse student population the opportunity to see others like themselves within the pages of these books and also as creators.

Why Is It Important?

Kapow speech bubble

Professor Kruse makes it clear that he is passionate both about comics and the students within his classroom. He is aware of the broad cultural impact of comic books and that these texts invite a sense of discovery by looking at characters that are likely familiar in a new way.  He believes that comics help students who are trying to find their place in the world see others like themselves doing the same thing. It also can help students who are hesitant to read to ultimately engage with ideas in a more accessible way and become part of the cultural conversation. The history of comics is a history of many of the divisive issues in our current time. Comics have existed as long as many of these issues and they have something to say to our students. His hope is that young people will engage with these texts and then act where they feel passionate.

Want to Try It?

Boom speech bubbleProfessor Kruse has used the following comic books in his classroom. Some of those comic studies have included author visits. Professor Kruse uses a multitude of others not listed here and would be happy to offer recommendations if you’d like to integrate some of these works into your own classroom.

Want to Know More? Explore Additional Resources!

*Speech Bubbles covered by a Creative Commons license and provided courtesy of Rojal on PNG All

Share with Your Colleagues

Do you have a strategy you’d like to share with your colleagues? Send a quick email to catl@uwgb.edu and we will follow up with you to create your teaching strategy spotlight! We would love to hear from you!