Assessment at Baruch

Learning Goals

Writing Learning Goals

Bloom's Taxonomy

Fundamental to writing effective learning goals is a familiarity with Bloom's taxonomy. Without an understanding of the various levels of knowledge, it is difficult to author learning goals that touch upon the full breadth of a student's potential for learning.

Bloom's taxonomy has numerous levels, which are described below.

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. Bloom found that most of the test questions that students encounter require them to think only at the lowest possible level: the recall of information.

Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall of facts as the lowest level through increasingly complex and abstract mental levels.

During the 1990s, a new assembly was formed to update the taxonomy to reflect relevance to 21st century work. Led by Lorin Anderson (a former student of Bloom), the group contained cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists, instructional researchers, and testing and assessment specialists. This new taxonomy (“The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy”) is the standard today.

Below, the levels are defined in order of least to most complex. Each definition is followed by a list of verbs that exemplify intellectual activity at their particular level.

  1. Remember: Recalling relevant knowledge from long-term memory.
    Define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, relate, repeat, reproduce

  2. Understand: Making sense of what you have learned.
    Classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase

  3. Apply: Using knowledge gained in new ways.
    Choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write

  4. Analyze: Breaking the concept into parts and understanding the relationships between each part.
    Appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test

  5. Evaluate: Making judgments based on a set of guidelines.
    Argue, criticize, defend, judge, question, relate, select, solve, support, value

  6. Create: Putting information together in a creative way.
    Assemble, combine, construct, design, develop, formulate, generate, invent, write

Some useful sources on Bloom's Taxonomy include Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally, by Andrew Churches, and Bloom's Taxonomy, by Richard C. Overbaugh and Lynn Schultz.

Writing Learning Goals

Learning goals should clearly articulate expected outcomes of student learning upon completion of instruction (e.g. major, minor, graduate degree, course). These goals should be directly measurable, such as through student assisgnments, although indirect measures are also useful and can be used in addition to direct measures. Such indirect measures include student surveys, feedback from student focus groups, and course evaluations.

Although this list is not exhaustive, learning goals can also be referred to as the following:

  • Learning objectives
  • Outcomes
  • Aims
  • Competencies
  • Educational Objectives

Learning goals should follow the model that the college has adopted for learning goals associated with courses: "By the time that students have completed [the program/major/minor/course], they will be able to..." See the faculty handbook's guidelines for writing learning goals. Of course, student learning goals should be appropriate to the level of each course or program.

For each goal, use active verbs that make clear to students and instructors what students will be able to do upon the completion of the program. The emphasis is on the student's achievements, and not the faculty member's methods: language such as "Faculty members will demonstrate how to identify pigeons from mourning doves" should be avoided in favor of student oriented phrasing, such as "Students will be able to distinguish between pigeons and mourning doves." It is useful to use verbs contained in the typical discussions of the revised Bloom's Taxonomy.

Our document, Assessment Guidelines, offers valuable information on how to conduct assessments to determine whether learning goals are being met, as well as how to construct said learning goals.

Learning Goals at Baruch College

In addition to Baruch’s college-wide learning goals, each individual school or department sets their own.

Baruch-Wide Learning Goals

For students admitted prior to the Fall 2013 semester, Baruch's Common Core learning goals apply.

  • Common Core (.pdf)
    This curriculum map lists the Common Core learning goals and maps which courses correspond to each of them.

For students admitted during and after the Fall 2013 semester, the Pathways learning goals apply.

  • Pathways
    This page has more details about Pathways, and includes the learning goals for required and flexible core courses.
  • Pathways (.pdf)
    This document includes the Pathways learning goals for required and flexible core courses in a printer-friendly format.

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