Course Design

Step One:  Identify Major Course Topics
What are the topics or principles students must understand and be able to apply at the end of this course?  Consider here what students may need to bring to courses that follow this course, what “an educated person in this field” would know, what students may need to know for their jobs.

Step Two: Identify Learning Outcomes for the Course
Learning outcomes state what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. These may be expressed as knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, thinking abilities or levels of understanding (

Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom and his group of educational psychologists developed a classification of levels of learning. They identified six levels within this cognitive domain, from simple recall of facts to evaluation, which involves applying judgment or decision-making in situations where there is not a clear right or wrong answer. To achieve higher levels of learning, of course, a learner must have progressed through the lower levels.  In college classrooms, however, we generally want to strive to go beyond simple recall and move students toward using knowledge, comprehension and application to achieve analysis, synthesis and evaluation.


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Category Examples Key Words
Knowledge: Remember or recall information to draw out factual answers Describe a historical event.  Recite a poem.  Know formula for calculating standard deviation. Define, describe, identify, know, label, list, match, name, outlines recalls recognize, reproduce, select, state.
Comprehension: Understand the meaning of instructions and problems. State a problem in one’s own words. Translate tax code into simple language. Explain steps for performing a complex task. Translate an equation into a computer formula. Comprehend, convert, defend, distinguish, estimate, explain, extend, generalize, give an example, infer, interpret, paraphrase, predict, rewrite, summarize, translate.
Application: Use a concept in a new situation. Apply what was learned in the classroom in the work place. Follow a policy to determine whether someone meets the criteria for employment. Use statistics to determine whether a difference is likely to be due to chance. Apply, change, compute, construct, demonstrate, discover, manipulate, modify, operate, predict, prepare, produce, relate, show, solve, use.
Analysis: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between facts and inferences. Analyze a case and determine the problem. Distinguish between a campaign allegation and a fact. Analyze, break down, compare, contrast, diagram, deconstruct, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, identify, illustrate, infer, outline, relate, select, separate.
Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure. Write a company operations or process manual. Design a machine to perform a specific task. Integrates training from several sources to solve a problem. Revises and process to improve the outcome. Categorize, combine, compose, create, devise, design, generate, modify, plan, rearrange, reconstruct, reorganize, revise.
Evaluation: Judge or decide according to some set of criteria, without strictly right or wrong answers Examples: Select the most effective solution. Hire the most qualified candidate. Explain and justify a new procedure. Compare, conclude, contrast, criticize, critique, defend, discriminate, evaluate, explain, interpret, support.

Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives ( Bloom, B. S., ed. (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York: Longman)