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Library Instruction

This guide provides goals, activities, planning tools, and instruction resources for planning and delivering instruction at Brooks Library.

What is an Outcome?

Outcomes (or ACRL's new term "abilities") are the learning objectives of an information session. They are what you have determined the student should learn from this session. After determining what goals you have for the session and what will best fit the needs of the class, write an outcome to set the parameters for your session.

For a cheesy analogy, think of walking to a specific location. Before you arrive you need to pick up some specific items (knowledge concepts). There's a few ways to get there, but you want to pick up some very specific pieces of information. The Outcome is your destination which sets the parameters for which path you should take to get there.

Further Reading:

Battersby, M. (1999). So, What's a Learning Outcome, Anyway? ERIC Document ED430611. Available through ERIC at

Writing an Outcome

Outcome Design

In designing an outcome, try to be as specific as possible as this will help guide you in creating a session. It's not just that you want students to walk out having learned something. Ideally they will walk out learning something so that they can apply it to something else.

Here are some examples of goals, and some potential outcomes you could write for those goals:

Goal 2.1 To expose students to different search strategies to inform their research

           Outcome: Students will be able to apply search strategies reviewed in class in order that they can find materials for their term research project

Goal 1.2: To foster critical thinking in students as they examine and evaluate resources and their contributions to a discipline or topic

            Outcome: Students will be able to use different methods of evaluation in order to determine how significant a scholarly work is to a particular field

 An easy aproach to writing an outcome is to use this formula:

[Learners] will be able to + [ability] + in order to + [rationale for learning the ability]

Selecting Terminology

In formulating these outcomes, use words that are measureable. Use terms like:

  • Identify, tabulate, demonstrate, incorporate, create, use, design, implement, assess, evaluate*
  • For more measureable verbs, Clinton Community College represents a nice breakdown of measurable verbs

We can still love these verbs, but they're very hard to measure. Avoid using terms like:

  • Appreciate, become familiar with, believe in, develop a feeling for, enthuse, grasp the significance of, have an awareness of, know, learn, realize, recognize the importance of, see the need for, understand, value

*Terms selected from CWU Curriculum Committee Forms