Creating Learning Objectives

Creating Learning Objectives


What is a learning objective?

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 states what knowledge, skills, or attitudes the learners will be able to exhibit following instruction. It specifically identifies observable behaviors the learners must demonstrate in order to confirm the intended learning took place.



What is the difference between a learning goal and a Learning Objective?

A learning goal is a broad statement of a desired outcome that should result from an instructional program.  A goal just describes a general outcome. It explains broad intentions of the course and does not contain specific achievements. Goals just describe what the participant will gain from the overall learning event, and not what they will actually be able to do. An example of a goal might be to “understand,” to “comprehend,” or to “appreciate.” Learning goals are intended to help focus on the long-range big picture.

Learning objectives, on the other hand, are specific, observable, and measurable learning outcomes. They are benchmarks by which to measure progress towards the achievement of the larger learning goal.



Why have learning objectives?

Learning objectives serve the following purposes:

  • Informs learners what is important
  • Gives learners a clear picture of what is expected of them
  • Helps learners understand how they will be assessed
  • Helps determine the selection of course content
  • Helps develop an instructional strategy
  • Provides guidance on development of instructional materials
  • Guides selection of teaching/learning activities
  • Guides in the selection of assessment methods
  • Helps development of assessments
  • Ensures connection of content and assessment
  • Encourages overall effective course design and development



What are the key components of a learning objective?

A learning objective has three major components:

  1. Performance – Indicates what participants are expected to as a result of the learning activity
  2. Conditions – Specifies under what conditions should the participants perform
  3. Criteria – Identifies how well the participants have to perform to satisfy the requirements




How do you create an effective learning objective?


Begin with the End in Mind

When creating a Learning Objective begin with the end goal in mind.  First, identify the overall goal of the course.  Then begin to write each Learning Objective as a step towards reaching that goal.

Indicate Expected Performance

A Learning Objective is participant-centered and performance based. Therefore, it should focus on the learner’s performance and not instructor’s performance. It should also describe what participants will be able to do as a result of the learning event. It should have action verbs that describe a specific and observable behavior. Thus, find an observable action word that captures what the learner should be able to do at the completion of the learning.

Describe the Condition

A Learning Objective should describe conditions under which the participants will perform the behavior.  Therefore, indicate the conditions under which the task will be performed. These conditions typically addresses time, place, resources, references, and circumstances.


Set Criteria

A Learning Objective should describe the criteria that will be used to evaluate performance to determine what is acceptable. Thus, it must be measurable.  The criteria should communicate the level of proficiency that is expected. The criteria should describe how the learner will be able to perform in terms of quality, quantity, and time measurements. Most importantly, it should be attainable.



How will you know it is a well-written Learning Objectives?

Well-written Learning Objectives;

  •  are participant-centered
  •  have specific action verbs
  •  are observable and measurable
  •  have appropriate assessment methods
  •  state desired performance criteria



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