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Making Learning Objectives Powerful and Purposeful

Learning objectives (which can also be called course objectives) are brief, precise, clear statements that specify what learners expect to perform at the end of any course or learning program. A learning objective provides a framework for the course which can be developed keeping in mind these goals. Therefore, setting learning objectives is the first step towards course development. So, how can you make sure your learning objectives are effective?

Keep the learning objectives simple and brief as it is easy for participants to better appreciate the purpose of the course quickly. Avoid long paragraphs as they do not communicate the gist of the learning program at a single glance. If there are multiple learning objectives, list them in bullet points.

Your learning objective should be appropriate for the learner, doable and realistic. Before you develop the objective make sure you have a clear idea about what needs to be learnt, the target group of learners, their profiles and their level of comprehension about the subject matter. This information will help you stay on track when defining your learning objectives.

The objectives of the course should communicate its intent and leave very little space for misinterpretation. Avoid words that are difficult to measure such as comprehend, familiarize, gain knowledge of and so on. Consult Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive behavior to choose the most appropriate words.

Your objectives should specify performance. That is, it must always state what a learner is expected to do after taking up the course. Remember that every training activity should result in the learner being able to do something better. Thus, a learning objective should indicate an observable action that the learner will be able to perform as a result of the program. (For example: to be able to fill the sales order form).

Learning objectives should consist of measurable criteria. Simply put, it means that you specify the acceptable level of performance for a task in terms of its quality, quantity or timing. (For example, To be able to fill the sales order form without errors). Here ‘without errors’ states the criteria of the learning objective.

Thus, a learning objective that is clearly formulated will:

  • ensure that the instructors know what needs to be taught
  • give an overview to the learners about what they need to learn and
  • also help the managers understand the ROI for their training dollars

If you have any more tips with respect to setting learning objectives do share the same with me.

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