Writing Learning Objectives
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. It contains action verbs that are observable and measurable. It identifies what behaviors a participant must demonstrate in order to confirm the intended learning took place.
Why have learning objectives?
Creating clear objectives for a learning session serves the following purposes:
- Provides direction for the learning experience
- Gives the learners a clear picture of what to expect and what is expected of them
- Helps ensure that the performance outcomes are connected to the learning activities
- Guides selection of learning activities
- Connects content and assessment
- Forms the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the session
Components of Learning Objectives
The learning objective has 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
Writing Learning Objectives
Well-written learning objectives have the following elements:
- are participant-centered
- have specific action verbs that are observable and measurable
- have appropriate assessment method
- state desired performance criteria
Steps on writing learning objectives
STEP 1: Make it participant centered
The objective should be focused on participant learning, rather than the instructor’s teaching. Learning objectives are not about what information the instructors can provide, but rather what the audience can demonstrate at the completion of the event. Therefore begin your objective by with one of the following phrases or a similar phrase.
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to…”
“By the end of this session, participants will be able to…”
“By the end of this class, the student will be able to…”
“By the end of this section, the student will be able to…”
STEP 2: Use an observable and measurable action verb
An effective learning objectives will include action verbs that are specific, concise, observable, and measurable. Verbs such as “understand,” “know,” or “comprehend” are not easily observable and measurable, so they 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.
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to identify three species of birds…”
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to demonstrate how to change a faucet on a sink…”
STEP 3: Describe under what conditions the actions must be performed
A learning objective should describe conditions under which the participants will perform the behavior. These conditions typically addresses time, place, resources, and circumstances.
Possible conditions include;
- using a calculator
- referencing a chart
- while being monitored
- using a drill and saw
- in 10 feet of water
- on a boat
- in the daylight
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to identify three species of birds referencing the guide book…”
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to demonstrate how to change a faucet on a sink using the instructional job aid…”
STEP 4: Set a required criteria
Finally, the 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. Often it describes how the learner will be able to perform in terms of quality, quantity, and time measurements.
Possible standards include;
- within 10 minutes
- within acceptable industry guidelines
- 80% or better
- assembling 15 items
- in compliance with a chart
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to identify three species of birds referencing the guide book with 100% accuracy.”
“By the end of this course, the learner will be able to demonstrate how to change a faucet on a sink using the instructional job aid within 10 minutes.”