Guide to OBE
Defining Intended Learning Outcomes [ILOs]
Principles for Effective Outcomes Statements

Now, let us look at some technicalities of writing statements for intended learning outcomes. It is really
quite simple.

Outcomes are about performance, and this implies a few things:

  1. There must be a performer - the student, not the teacher
  2. There must be something performable (thus demonstrable or assessable) to perform
  3. The focus is on the performance, not the activity or task to be performed

See the examples below:

Example 1
X To enhance students' teamwork skills (teacher-focused)
V To be able to work effectively in a team (student-focused)

Example 2
X Understand the aetiology of common diseases (not very clear what the student needs to perform)
V Students will be able to draw upon their medical knowledge and experience to diagnose the condition of their patients (clear in terms of what the student needs to perform)

Example 3
X Students will take part in the organisation of a fashion show (activity-focused)
V Students will be able to organise a fashion show (performance-focused)

Translating an Objective into an Outcome (Examples)

Most programmes have their set of objectives. If that is the case for you, you do not need to start from
scratch (but it is a good chance to review and revise those objectives). Table E offers some examples
of how an objective may be translated into an outcome.


Programme Level

Example from ITC, PolyU

To stimulate the enquiring, analytical and creative ability of students, so that they can be sensitive to economic, technological, and political changes in the global environment, catch opportunities and develop the business. Students will demonstrate sensitivity and an ability to analyse and enquire into the economic, technological, and political changes in the global environment to identify opportunities and creatively develop the business.

Subject Level

Example from CSE, PolyU

To establish an understanding of the fundamental principles of fluid mechanics and to introduce their applications in situations that are of concern and relevance to a practising civil engineer. Students will be able to apply the fundamental principles of fluid mechanics to situations that are of concern and relevance to a ractising civil engineer.

Table E: Objective vs. Outcome Translation


It may be useful to begin your outcome statement with this stem:
On successful completion of the programme, a student will have shown that he or she caníK


Compiling your Set of Outcome Statements

In the previous sections, much has been said about how to write a good and effective outcome
statement. This section looks at the complete set of outcomes as a whole.

  • Number of outcomes Keep your outcome set to a manageable size. For a programme, 10-20 outcomes are probably the acceptable range. Remember that these are the ultimate outcomes of the programme. Intermediate outcomes should be addressed at a subject level.
  • Check for overlapping Each outcome should be easily differentiable from each other. This is particularly important if you are going to map your curriculum.
  • Check for clarity A good set of programme outcomes should communicate clearly to students about what they need to achieve in the programme (i.e. it would give them a clear direction for their study) Check for representativeness It should tell those who read it what attributes they would find in a graduate from the programme.
  • The issue of alignment The rule of alignment is effective to the outcome set as well as to each intended learning outcomes. As a set of programme outcomes, it should be addressing the institution outcome adequate íV in other words, will your programme (as depicted by your set of programme outcomes) produce all-round students with professional competence?

Final Words

Compiling the outcome set should be a collaborative effort of the programme team. A common understanding of what the programme is trying to achieve is important for the development of appropriate teaching and assessment strategies.