Learning Objectives

What are we going to learn and how will we know we’ve learned it?

Learning objectives are expectations of what students should know or be able to do, how and under what conditions this knowledge or skill will be demonstrated and the criteria to determine success.

Learning Objectives should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable/Observable
  • Attainable for target audience within scheduled time and specified conditions
  • Relevant and results-oriented
  • Targeted to the learner and to the desired level of learning (Doran, 1981)

In general, Learning Objectives should have these four components:

  1. A measurable verb
  2. The important condition under which the performance is to occur
  3. The criterion of acceptable performance
  4. The time-frame for achievement

Learning Objectives focus on these three domains:

  • Cognitive: knowledge, intellectual skills
  • Affective: attitudes, interests, feelings, values, adjustments
  • Psychomotor: motor and manipulations skills

Consider the following template for Learning Objectives:

After (the training period, semester, module, interaction with content) the learner will be able to (perform an action, analysis or demonstration) under the following conditions (individually, in a group, in writing, orally) with a specified degree of proficiency (criteria for success).

As a first step, determine the Learning Objectives for the entire course. Then, use the objectives to order the course content, activities and assessments. Finally, use the objectives to create learning modules designed to support student achievement of these objectives.

A good place to start is this learning objectives builder form Arizona State University.

Further Reading

Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives, Management Review, Volume 70, Issue 11(AMA Forum), pp. 35-36.

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