Learning Objectives

What do Learning Objectives do?

  • Communicate course intentions clearly to students.
  • Provide a framework for selecting and organizing course content.
  • Guide in decisions about assessment and evaluation methods. 
  • Provide a framework for selecting appropriate teaching and learning activities. 
  • Give students information for directing their learning efforts and monitoring their own progress.


Key Elements of a Learning Objective

  1. Observable and Measurable:  Clear objectives should be measurable. We should be able to easily check (that is, assess) whether students have mastered a skill (for example, asking students to "state" a given theorem, "solve" a textbook problem, or "identify" the appropriate principle).
  2. Student Centered: Learning objectives should be student-centered; for example, stated as "Students should be able to  _______.“ 
  3. Action Verbs: Clear objectives should use action verbs to focus on learning explicit, and communicate to the students the kind of intellectual effort we expect of them. Furthermore, using action verbs reduces ambiguity in what it means to "understand." 
  4. Component Skills: They should break down the task and focus on specific cognitive processes. Many activities that faculty believe requires a single skill (for example, writing or problem solving) actually involve a synthesis of many component skills. 

Course Design Best Practices

  • Learning objectives should serve as the guidelines course content development. 
  • All course content is based on Learning Objectives.
  • When developing content there should be a clear and direct alignment between all learning materials included (activities, text, videos, images, etc.) and the learning objectives.