Creating a Lesson Plan and Determining Learning Outcomes

Before you do anything, you’ll need to focus your objective(s) for the class. After collaborating on shared goals with the faculty member, formulate your learning outcomes for the class so that you can keep them in mind as you plan and teach the class. Well thought out learning outcomes will give structure to the discussion, activities and assessment of the class.

Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. Outcomes are usually expressed as knowledge, skills, or attitudes. Learning outcomes have three distinguishing characteristics.

(1) The specified action by the learners must be observable.
(2) The specified action by the learners must be measurable.
(3) The specified action must be done by the learners.

The ultimate test when writing a learning outcome is whether or not the action taken by the participants can be assessed. If not, the outcome probably does not meet all three of the characteristics.1
Familiarize yourself with Bloom’s Taxonomy2, a hierarchical classification of learning objectives. Bloom recommends specific verbs to use when writing learning objectives so that the objectives can be measured.



Worse: Students will understand how to use the Boolean operators AND and OR.
Better: Students will demonstrate how to use the Boolean operators AND and OR.

Demonstration is a behavior that can be assessed. Assessing understanding is vague and difficult.


Worse: Teach students to search the library catalog.
Better: Students will be able to perform a title search in the library catalog.

Focus on the students, not yourself as the instructor.


Worse: Students should know and apply evaluating strategies for choosing articles.
Better: Students will able to distinguish between scholarly and popular magazines.

Be realistic of what can be accomplished in a session.

You will never be able to fit everything you want to communicate to your students in a one shot instruction session. You have too much valuable information. Use the Understanding By Design Egg Model to prioritize what you cover in the class period and what can be explained on your research guide.

understanding by design egg model


These things should be on your research guide or web page.




These things are not the main focus of your teaching, but should be briefly addressed. Further discussion in a tutorial, guide, pre-assignment, or by faculty is valuable.



These are your focus for the session and are amenable to active learning situations.



Questions to ask yourself before the session:

  • What do students want to know when they come to your class?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do students always get stuck on?
  • What is one thing that students need to understand before they go on to the next level (i.e., the next course in the discipline)?

Adapted from Megan Oakleaf, "Lessons for the Librarian: 10 Tips for Teaching the One-Shot Instruction Session" found here

1 see:
2 for example: