Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links

Learning Outcomes

metaphorical ladder to success

A learning outcome is a statement of what the learner is expected to know, understand, or be able to do on successful completion of the module or the entire programme.

Guidelines for inclusive learning outcomes


Learning outcomes should:

  • incorporate a suitable action word that captures a means of demonstrating the acquisition of knowledge, skill or competency.

Video tutorial: This video guides you when evaluating your learning outcomes for inclusivity. Video length: 2 minutes 17s

The Bologna Desk offers feedback to College staff engaged in writing learning outcomes. Following the advise of the Bologna Desk will enable to creation of well-expressed, inclusive, learning outcomes.


Use learning outcomes to choose your teaching and assessment methods:

  • choose teaching methods that will reach your outcomes.
  • choose assessment methods that will demonstrate how well learning outcomes have been achieved.
  • communicate to students how learning outcomes align to teaching and assessment methods so they can use learning outcomes as a clarifying tool.

Learning outcomes can help staff members to choose appropriate teaching, learning, and assessment strategies. This is known as critical alignment. When there is alignment, course content reflects learning outcomes, teaching methods are chosen to reach outcomes, and assessment is designed specifically to judge if and how well the learning outcomes have been achieved by the students. Aligned learning outcomes offer students insight into the methods of teaching and assessment they can expect on a programme or module and allows for more informed choices regarding which programmes and modules will suit their interests, strengths, and needs.

Necessary Barriers

If your learning outcomes exclude anyone (e.g. students with specific disabilities):

  • ensure these barriers are necessary and amend if not.

Not all barriers to learning are unnecessary however.

For example,

  • if a learning outcomes sought for students to demonstrate their ability to complete an experiment this could be an unnecessary barrier because the physical activity is not a necessary element of the module. Instead it was a means of demonstrating a theoretical understanding.
  • However, in other courses the physical activity could be a central element. For example, a dentist must be physically able to fill a cavity; a musician must be physically able to play their instrument. Hence, learning outcomes will sometimes include necessary barriers, particularly on professionally accredited courses.

As a rule, where a learning outcome disadvantages any students, it must be very carefully defined and capable of being defended.

Trinity examples of Good Practice Learning Outcomes:

These are examples of learning outcomes that have gained approval by College and are inclusive in nature.

Last updated 22 September 2016 by Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (Email).