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Learning objectives aren’t just a list of what you’re covering in class. Good learning objectives are what you want your students/trainees to learn or achieve (“by the end of this course, you will be able to...”). If you don’t know the end goal—and you don’t have certain measurable checkpoints—you can get lost along the way. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Before you begin writing objectives, stop and think about what type of change you want your training to make. In other words, what do you want your participants to do differently when they return to work? The domains of learning can be categorized as affective (attitude), psychomotor (skills), and cognitive (knowledge). An easy way to remember this is with the acronym ASK:
Now that you’ve identified what domain you intend to focus on for your objective, it’s time to start crafting your objective. To do that, it’ll help to have an action verb to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning. Here’s a list of action verbs, separated by domain. Avoid having more than one action verb for each level of learning, and make sure it’s a verb that can be measured. “Understand” is too vague, but “complete,” “identify,” or “recognize” are specific.
Now it's your turn to give it a whirl.
Make sure your objectives include four pieces: audience, behavior, condition, and degree of mastery. For every one, identify and label the component. Here are the A, B, C, D's every objective should contain:
Try labeling each of the four components in your objectives to make sure you didn't forget anything. In the following examples, the audience will be italicized, the behavior will be underlined, the condition will be in regular type, and the degree of mastery will be bolded.
Given an expense report, the learner will complete the company form with no errors.
After completing the three-day design training, the learner will be able to list the 8 steps in the design process in order.
Go through this process for each objective. Don’t stop until you feel that you have enough objectives to effectively measure your performance. Remember, objectives work as checkpoints that lead to a completion of a goal. It’s important you have enough of them to keep yourself from getting lost. Start with what you want to achieve and work backwards.
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Published originally by Jordan Meyers, adapted from Becky Pluth’s session on writing objectives at the 2014 Creative Training Techniques conference.