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Learning Objectives

What do good learning objectives need to be? Specific, observable and measurable.

The most important and challenging aspect of writing good learning objectives is defining observable behavior that can be measured. “Learning” and “understanding” are laudable instructional goals, but they are not observable or measurable. You cannot measure learning or understanding; but you can measure how well a student can organize, label, explain, or create.

What do I include in learning objectives? Condition, behavior and degree.

Well-written learning objectives include these three elements:

  1. Condition - the condition under which the student will perform the described behavior
  2. Behavior - a description of a specific, observable behavior
  3. Degree - the degree indicates the desired level or degree of acceptable performance

Let’s look at an example

If students should be able to do this: The learning objective would be:
Example Condition Behavior Degree
Create a balance sheet
Given a list and values of a company’s assets and liabilities student will create a balance sheet within 90% of the correct asset values
Calculate the standard deviation
Given a set of data student will calculate the standard deviation within .01 of the correct measure
Illustrate the differences between early American presidents
Using course notes and other references create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the ideology and political characteristics of two early American presidents with at least 5 characteristics for each president from the Encyclopedia Britannica list

Tip: Use the list of verbs in the taxonomy table worksheet to help you choose observable behaviors for your course learning objectives.

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