Writing learning objectives: knowing what to aim for


I’ve found that writing measurable learning objectives speeds up my instructional design process and makes elearning quicker to design and develop. I use measurable learning objectives to get agreement from the Subject Matter Expert on what successful behaviour change (learning) looks like and then use them to inform what content, practice activities, and assessment are included in the learning solution.

How do you write a measureable learning objective?

A clear measureable learning objective starts with an active verb (doing word) and is worded so that others can clearly detect if the objective has been achieved or not by the end of the training session. Examples of active verbs are: list, demonstrate, match, identify, record, describe, state, compare, and contrast. Blooms Taxonomy gives a list or verbs and different cognitive levels that are useful for writing learning objectives, here is a printable list you can use to help you.

Vague verbs such as “understand”, “know” or “learn about” should be avoided and replaced with the more specific verbs. For example, it is impossible to observe if a person has achieved “understanding”.

Measurable learning objectives include three components:
*  the behaviour that will be observed (verb),
*  the conditions in which this behaviour will occur and
*  the criteria or how well a learner must perform that behaviour to be judged competent.

For example, suppose a learning objective for this blog post is that you will be able to: write a learning objective on how to blow a bubble from gum which includes the three components of a measurable learning objective (the behaviour, conditions and criteria).

Can you recognise the three measurable components in the bubble blowing objective above?

So what could a measurable learning objective for blowing a bubble look like? How about this: blow a bubble with hubba bubba gum that is larger than a 50 cent coin in diameter and stays inflated for more than three seconds. Could you clearly observe success for this bubble blowing learning objective? What other measurable learning objectives could be written for how to blow a bubble?

I’ve only scratched the surface of learning objectives here and would love to hear what your thoughts are on writing measurable learning objectives?

One thought on “Writing learning objectives: knowing what to aim for

  1. Pingback: Steps to build better branching scenarios | Making a difference

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