A learning objective is an explicit statement that expresses what the participant will be able to do as a result of a learning event. It identifies what behaviors a participant must demonstrate in order to confirm the intended learning took place.
Learning objectives can be divided into two categories:
- Terminal Objective (Performance)
- Enabling Objective (Supporting)
Terminal Objectives and Enabling Objectives
A Terminal or Performance Objective is a statement in specific and measurable terms that describes what the learner will be able to do as a result of engaging in a learning activity.
A Terminal Objective should be created for each of the tasks addressed in the learning program. The objective should be focused at the highest level of learning an individual will accomplish by competing the learning event.
Each written objective should include a task/performance, condition, and a standard.
Task or Performance: States what the participant will be doing and how he or she will demonstrate the knowledge, skill, or behavior.
Condition: Specifies under what conditions the participants should perform the task.
Standards: Defines what level the participant must perform the task at.
Terminal Objectives describe results and not processes. The objective should be written from the perspective of what the learner will be able to do at the end of the session, and not what the instructor will teach.
After the terminal objective is created, it should be analyzed to determine if it needs one or more Enabling Objectives.
Enabling Objectives are supporting objectives for Terminal Objectives. They are created by analyzing Terminal Objective. They allow the Terminal Objective to be broken down into smaller, more manageable objectives.
A well written Enabling Objectives will state the expectations of the learner’s performance. They will define the skills, knowledge, or behaviors the learner must reach in order to successfully complete the Terminal Objectives. Each Enabling Objective addresses a component of the Terminal Objective and helps track the learner’s progress towards that objective.
The Enabling Objectives should outline a sequence of learning activities for the instruction phase of the lesson plan. They essentially outline the steps necessary for a learner to acquire new skills and knowledge leading to the performance level stated in the Terminal Objective. They should cover all of the skills the learner needs to master to meet the Terminal Objective.
Similar to the Terminal Objective, the Enabling Objective is written from the perspective of the learner and what he or she must do to accomplish the Terminal Objective.
By the end of the session, the learner will be able to balance his or her checkbook
- The learner will be able to distinguish a credit from debit
- The learner will be able to identify the correct columns for each entry
- The learner will be able to enter the data in the correct columns
In the example, the Terminal Objective of “balance his or her checkbook” is the end result. The Enabling Objectives list the skills, knowledge, and/or behavior he or she will need to accomplish the Terminal Objective.