Learning Outcomes

Whereas goals are broad general statements of what we intend to accomplish, learning outcomes describe the specific knowledge, proficiencies, practices and commitments that all Harvey Mudd College students should develop as a result of their Harvey Mudd experience. The statements below represent our shared aspirations for our students, and serve as a catalyst for our efforts to assess and improve the education we offer.

Institutional Learning Outcomes for Harvey Mudd College

A statement of intended outcomes describing what students learn from their entire Harvey Mudd experience, through their Core courses, whatever their major, or co-curricular activities they choose to pursue.

Learning Outcomes for the Core Curriculum

The Harvey Mudd faculty has specified outcomes for the College’s Core Curriculum.

Learning Outcomes for Departments and Programs

Each academic department, as well as a number of academic centers and offices that provide academic programs and services, has developed learning outcomes for the major or program it offers.

Developing Effective Learning Outcomes

Using Learning Outcomes to Strengthen Student Learning

The explicit articulation of learning outcomes can have an important impact on sustaining and strengthening student learning in a variety of ways.

Promoting Awareness

Statements of learning outcomes can be used as a blueprint to promote awareness of the purpose of a course as a whole or of specific course assignments or activities. Outcomes are typically included in course syllabi, but may also be referenced in the description of a course assignment or activity or reflected on in exams or course evaluations. The underlying assumption is that informed and intentional students learn more effectively. Put simply, students who are aware of where they are going are more likely to get there


Learning outcomes can be used to examine the alignment of both an academic program, and the content and pedagogy of a single course within the learning outcomes for a major. Departments can examine course offerings to determine where specific learning outcomes are being addressed and evaluate whether the structure of the curriculum supports overall departmental learning goals. At the individual course level, readings, activities and assignments are opportunities for students both to develop and to demonstrate the learning outcomes associated with a course. Faculty can use learning outcomes as a framework for analyzing the work they require of their students, examining the extent to which their assignments reflect the learning outcomes the course is intended to develop.

Beyond that, learning outcomes can be used to:

Facilitate Assessment

Students’ papers, projects, examinations, and other tangible evidence of learning can be evaluated against the learning outcomes for the major. Consider the following questions: What can you learn from the evaluation of students’ work to help determine how well the course is meeting its learning outcomes? Can you aggregate observations of the work of individual students so that something meaningful can be said about an entire class? Do you need additional evaluation tools to supplement what is already being done?

Informing Change

Learning outcomes can be included in mid-semester or final course evaluations (which also serves the purpose of further promoting student awareness of those outcomes). Based on the results, and in light of what is learned from any of the above activities, faculty and staff can sustain what works well, and identify potential improvements in relation to the learning outcomes of the course.