A learning objective is an explicit statement that clearly expresses what the participant will be able to do as a result of a learning event.
Learning objectives are specific, observable, and measurable learning outcomes that describe what the learner will be able to do as a result of the learning activity. They are benchmarks by which to measure progress towards the achievement of the larger goal.
Educational theorist Robert Mager created a framework for developing learning objectives. He constructed them around three main components:
Performance – Indicates what participants are expected to as a result of the learning activity
Conditions – Specifies under what conditions should the participants perform
Criteria – Identifies how well the participants have to perform to satisfy the requirements
A learning objective is participant-centered and performance based. It should describe what participants will be able to do as a result of the learning event. Therefore, the statement should have an action verb that best describes the type of behavior that the participant needs to display.
The only way you can determine whether or not a participant has learned something is to observe some kind of behavior that indicates learning has taken place. Therefore, the action verbs should be specific, observable, and measurable. Verbs such as “understand,” “know,” or “comprehend” are not easily observable and measurable, and should be avoided.
Possible action verbs include; list, identify, explain, describe, calculate, compare, demonstrate, and analyze.
NOTE: Consult Blooms Taxonomy for a full list of observable action verbs.
A learning objective should describe conditions under which the participants will perform the behavior.
The conditions under which the task will be performed typically addresses time, place, resources, and circumstances.
Possible conditions include;
A learning objective should describe the criteria that will be used to evaluate performance to determine what is acceptable.
The criteria should communicate the level of proficiency that is expected. It might describe how the learner will be able to perform in terms of quality, quantity, and time measurements.
Possible standards include;
Mager, R. F. (1997). Preparing Instructional Objectives (3rd ed.). Atlanta, Georgia: CEP Press.
Clark, D.R. (2004). Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html.