How do you write good learning objectives for courses? - Virtual First

How do you write good learning objectives for courses?

Learning Objectives

Crafting Effective Behavioural Objectives: A Guide to Enhancing Learning and Measurable Outcomes

In the dynamic landscape of education, behavioural objectives stand as the cornerstone of effective teaching and learning. These objectives, meticulously crafted to describe observable and measurable learner behaviours, serve as a roadmap for both instructors and learners, ensuring that the learning journey culminates in the acquisition of specific skills and knowledge.

Defining the Purpose of Your Course

Before embarking on the task of crafting objectives, it’s crucial to establish the overarching purpose of your course. What do you want your learners to know or be able to do upon completion? Identifying this core purpose will provide a framework for developing clear and measurable objectives.

The Essence of Behavioural Objectives

Behavioural objectives are not mere statements of intent; they are precise, actionable descriptions of what learners will be able to do upon completion of a course or learning module. These objectives provide clarity and direction, ensuring that both instructors and learners are aligned on the desired outcomes.

Characteristics of Well-Formulated Behavioural Objectives

Effective behavioural objectives adhere to several key characteristics:

  1. Observability: Behavioural objectives should focus on observable actions or behaviours that can be directly assessed. Avoid vague or subjective terms that leave room for ambiguity.
  2. Measurability: Objectives should be measurable, allowing instructors to gauge whether learners have achieved the intended outcomes. This may involve quantifiable assessments, demonstrations, or practical applications.
  3. Specificity: Objectives should be specific and clearly defined, providing a precise understanding of what learners are expected to accomplish. Avoid overly broad or general statements.
  4. Attainability: Objectives should be attainable within the scope of the course and the learners’ capabilities. Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to discouragement and hinder progress.
  5. Relevance: Objectives should align with the overall purpose of the course and address the key skills or knowledge learners need to gain. Ensuring relevance ensures that the learning experience is focused and meaningful.

Crafting Effective Behavioural Objectives: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Identify the Learning Outcomes: Begin by defining the overarching learning outcomes for your course or module. What do you want learners to know or be able to do upon completion
  2. Break Down Learning Outcomes: Divide the learning outcomes into smaller, more specific behavioural objectives. Each objective should focus on a single observable behaviour.
  3. Use Action Verbs: Employ strong action verbs that clearly convey the desired learner behaviour. Avoid vague verbs like “understand” or “know”; instead, opt for verbs like “explain,” “analyse,” or “apply.”
  4. Define Conditions: Specify any conditions or limitations that may apply to the behaviour. For instance, “Learners will be able to write a five-paragraph essay on the topic of environmental sustainability, using at least three credible sources.”
  5. Establish Criteria: Determine the criteria for successful performance. What constitutes a satisfactory demonstration of the desired behaviour?
  6. Seek Feedback: Review your objectives with peers or experienced educators to ensure clarity, specificity, and alignment with the learning outcomes.

Benefits of Behavioural Objectives

Behavioural objectives offer a multitude of benefits for both instructors and learners:

  1. Enhanced Clarity: Objectives provide clear direction for both instructors and learners, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding the desired outcomes.
  2. Focused Instruction: Objectives guide instructors in designing effective lessons and activities that align with the targeted behaviours.
  3. Measurable Progress: Objectives allow for ongoing assessment of learner progress, enabling instructors to identify areas of strength and provide timely feedback.
  4. Empowered Learners: Objectives empower learners by providing a clear understanding of what is expected of them, motivating them to take ownership of their learning journey.
  5. Enhanced Accountability: Objectives promote accountability, ensuring that both instructors and learners are committed to achieving the stated outcomes.

Behavioural objectives serve as the foundation for effective teaching and learning. By crafting clear, measurable, and attainable objectives, instructors can guide learners towards a meaningful and transformative learning experience. Remember, well-formulated objectives are not mere formalities; they are the compass that steers the learning journey towards success.

Review and Revision

As your course evolves, revisit and revise your objectives periodically. This ensures that they remain relevant to the course content, reflect the latest advancements in the field, and align with the evolving needs of your learners.

By following these guidelines, you can craft compelling learning objectives that serve as a cornerstone for your video-based course, ensuring that your learners embark on a meaningful and transformative learning journey.

Here are a few examples of behavioural objectives. Note the the verb defining the behaviour(s) is/are in bold:

Subject: English Language Arts

  • Objective: Students will be able to write a well-structured five-paragraph essay on a chosen topic, effectively utilizing transitions, proper grammar, and a variety of sentence structures.

  • Objective: Students will be able to analyse a literary work, identifying and interpreting themes, symbols, and character development in a written analysis essay.

  • Objective: Students will be able to engage in a persuasive debate, presenting well-researched arguments, logical reasoning, and effective rebuttal strategies.

Subject: Mathematics

  • Objective: Students will be able to solve complex linear equations, demonstrating proficiency in applying algebraic concepts and techniques.

  • Objective: Students will be able to analyse real-world data using statistical methods, including measures of central tendency, dispersion, and probability.

  • Objective: Students will be able to apply geometric principles to solve real-world problems, such as calculating area, perimeter, and volume of various shapes.

Subject: Science

  • Objective: Students will be able to design and conduct a scientific experiment, formulating a hypothesis, collecting data, analysing results, and drawing conclusions.

  • Objective: Students will be able to explain the process of photosynthesis, detailing the role of light, water, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll in plant energy production.

  • Objective: Students will be able to understand the concept of DNA and its role in genetic inheritance, explaining the processes of replication, transcription, and translation.

Subject: History

  • Objective: Students will be able to analyse and compare primary and secondary sources to assess historical events and developments.

  • Objective: Students will be able to critically evaluate historical narratives, identifying potential biases and presenting alternative perspectives.

  • Objective: Students will be able to construct a timeline of significant events in a particular historical period, identifying cause-and-effect relationships and drawing connections to the present.

Subject: Foreign Language

  • Objective: Students will be able to hold a basic conversation in the target language, using appropriate vocabulary and grammar structures.

  • Objective: Students will be able to write a short paragraph in the target language, demonstrating comprehension of sentence structure and verb conjugations.

  • Objective: Students will be able to understand and translate a short text in the target language, identifying key vocabulary and grammatical elements.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Remember that not all skills are created equally. Also, some skills have to be in place before the next level up can be achieved. Think of the skills you had to learn before you got to the stage of being able to read pages like this. This is where we turn to Bloom’s taxonomy for clarification.

Learning Objectives

As you can see there are 6 levels in the taxonomy and they are increasingly difficult as you climb up the pyramid.  Notice, too, that each level has its own set of behavioural objectives verbs. When you are creating objectives, you can use this to identify the verb (skill) you should use. In addition, you will also be able to see how difficult the skill is and, more crucially, what pre-skills might be needed.

Now you are ready to create your first sample video.