What are learning objectives and how do I create good ones?

If you're reading this article you may have noticed that for every stage in your course we ask you to create a learning objective. Why do we do this? Well the answer is simple, if you don't define clear learning objectives then you won't create good learning content. In this article we'll explain what makes a great learning objective and how you can create them for yourself.

What is a learning objective?

A learning objective is a brief, clear, specific statement of what your target learners will be able to do at the end of a stage.

When thinking about learning objectives we can use Bloom's taxonomy. Bloom's taxonomy classifies learning objectives into 6 levels of sophistication.

  • The simplest level is "remember". This means that your learner is able to remember and recite what they have learned. 
  • The next level above this is "understand" i.e. the ability for your learner to explain or describe what they've learned
  • As you go up the pyramid your learner will be able to apply, analyse and evaluate the information

How do I create good learning objectives?

Here are our top tips for creating good learning objectives:

Tip 1: Follow the learning objective pattern

You can write good learning objectives by following this pattern:

By the end of the stage learners will be able to (insert verb) (insert none)

For example:

By the end of the stage learners will be able to understand (in simple terms) the main causes of climate change

You can use Bloom's taxonomy above to find a list of verbs that relate to each stage of the learning pyramid

Tip 2: Order your learning objectives in a logical sequence

Remember that you often have to start at the bottom of the pyramid and work your way up. This means that earlier stages may be focused on remembering and reciting facts whereas later stages will ask your learner to apply this information

Tip 3: Make initial learning objectives easier to achieve

Part of the process of creating great training is keeping your learner motivated. Start your courses with easier learning objectives that you know your learners will get without too much difficulty. This will motivate them for the more challenging stages to come.

Tip 4: Don't try to do too much

It's often tempting to try to cover a lot of ground in one stage or course. However, a good learning objective should focus on your learner being able to do one thing really well

Here is an example of a very bad learning objective:

By the end of the stage learners will be able to understand what makes a healthy calving and why you should not always intervene in a calving and how to know if their calving will be successful

The right way to do this is to break this down into 3 learning objectives:

1.  By the end of the stage learners will be able to recognise an unhealthy calving from a picture
2. By the end of the stage learners will be able to explain why you should not always intervene in a calving
3. By the end of the stage learners will be able to predict whether or not a calving will be successful

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