Intended Learning Outcomes

Teach a Course

Home » Teach a Course » Intended Learning Outcomes

Why use Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)?

The challenge to designers of curricula in higher education is how to harness the use of learning outcomes to view learning from the perspective of the learner, rather than the lecture, and thereby to enrich the quality of learning experienced by undergraduate students. (Allan, 1996)

Intended learning outcomes (ILOs) support students learning by: monitoring growth and progress, signaling what is important or valued in a lesson, providing a framework for instructional strategies and assessment activities, and allowing you to reflect on effectiveness of lesson plans and design. This resource is designed to help you understand when to use an ILO, the important elements and examples.

When do I use?

ILOs are used at all levels of learning. For example, the University of Victoria has established institutional-wide intended learning outcomes. We recommended using ILOs at all levels. At the University level, ILOs tend to be quite broad. At the program-level, ILOs begin to become more specific with the most specificity found at the lesson-level. In between program and lesson ILOs are course ILOs. 

What are the elements of intended learning outcomes?

Another way to look at it is: Under what conditions (context), who (audience) will do what (actions) and how well (criteria).

1. Audience

Who is learning? This is generally expressed as “you”.

2. Actions

What do you want the learners to do? Specifics of what the learner will have accomplished and/or what the learner will do to demonstrate learning and always contains an action verb – see Bloom’s Taxonomy for examples of verbs you can use.

3. Context

Under what conditions will learners be assessed? Sets the parameters of when learning will take place and be assessed.

4. Criteria

What level of performance is expected? This sets the expectations for proficiency and sets the standard for how learning is evaluated.

Examples of intended learning outcomes

As is evident in the following examples below, lesson-level ILOs are generally more specific, whereas course-level ILOs are somewhat broader.



  • “By the end of the course, you will correctly distinguish the components of precise and clear communication in presentations.”
  • “Through a variety of projects discussed in this course, you will appropriately identify research methods related to specific inquiry questions.”
  • “Following ample practice throughout the course, you will critically reflect on key foundation concepts in relation to your own growth.”


  • “By the end of this lesson, you will succinctly describe the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.”
  • “Following the reading of War and Peace, you will sufficiently summarize the key literary themes.”
  • “While engaging in dialogue with your peers, you will carefully articulate a solid argument in response to questions posed.”


  1. Allan, J. (1996). Learning outcomes in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 21(1), 93-108. DOI: 10.1080/03075079612331381487
  2. Kennedy, D. (2007). Writing and using learning outcomes: A practical guide. Quality Promotion Unit,
  3. University College Cork.

About this post

This post was last updated:

April 29, 2021

We acknowledge and respect the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) Peoples on whose territory the university stands, and the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

jQuery(function ($) { //open toggle on button click $('').on('click', function(event){ $('#toggle3.et_pb_toggle_2 .et_pb_toggle_title').click(); }); }); Skip to content