In brief:

The SMART principles for writing learning outcome statements help Instructors: 

  • articulate outcome statements that are student-friendly,  
  • devise a robust course design that aligns learner progression with teaching focus and learning & assessment activities 
  • plan a course that is appropriately situated within the program curriculum

Your course learning outcomes identify what a successful student will be able to demonstrate by the end of the course. Your supporting outcomes are the more discrete outcomes that build students toward the final outcomes. These two elements are the roadmap for your course. As such, they require a deep and thoughtful investment of your time to ensure they accurately represent the course curriculum and scaffold student learning appropriately. 

It is good measure to integrate five principles into your learning outcome statements. These principles have been aptly named the SMART principles for writing effective learning outcomes. 

SMART Principles for Writing Effective Learning Outcomes

Your learning outcome statements should reflect the SMART principles. 

Your learning outcomes should be: 

The next section will:

  • introduce you to a simple formula for writing student-friendly learning outcome statements.


Skrbic N, Burrows J. Specifying Learning Objectives, : Ashmore L, Robinson D. (Eds.) Learning, Teaching and Development: Strategies for Action. London: Sage Publications; 2014; 54– 87.[Google Scholar]