Learning objective

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1 Definition

Learning objectives are statements that define the expected goal of a curriculum, course, lesson or activity interms of demonstrable skills or knowledge that will be acquired by a student as a result of instruction. Also known as : Instructional objectives, learning outcomes, learning goals.

See also: * Bloom's taxonomy

2 Introduction

The definition of learning objectives is (or should be) the foundation of any instructional design. They are integral determining factor of strategies and Instructional design model and methods, pedagocial scenarios and lesson plans.

3 Problems defining learning objectives

Learning objectives when attained should be observable behaviours or actions. Words used to define learning objectives are often teacher centered and ambiguous.

E.g. Students will know the seven original member countries of the European Union and their capitals.

Formulations such as "Student will understand, comprehend, know" are problematic in that one cannot observe knowing or comprehension. Learning objectives should be formulated in a way that specifies how learning will be observed or measured and are thus intertwined with evaluation methods. Words that describe what the student will do to show that he or she understands are more useful.

E.g. Students will be able to list 5 countries in Europe and their capitals.

3.1 Verbs for defining learning objectives

Verbs presented in the following table are lists of verbs that correspond to the cognitive domains within Bloom's Taxonomy from CyberCampus's Tips for writing performance-based objectives.

Verbs for defining learning objecitves according to Bloom's taxonomy

Source:Kemp, J.E., Morrison, G.R., & Ross, S.M. (1998). Designing effective instruction, 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill

4 Tools

5 Links

Introductions for "Bloom"-type definitions

All of the following links offer similar advice. That doesn't mean that there are no alternatives. For example, in some pedagogies, the learning objectives also could be described in terms of a product that implicitly defines skills to be learned.


6 References

  • Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, R. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J. & Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing. New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.
  • Bloom, B.S. (Ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, Cognitive Domain. New York ; Toronto: Longmans, Green.
  • Mager, R.F. (1984). Preparing instructional objectives. (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: David S. Lake.
  • Kraiger, K., Ford, J. K., & Salas, E. (1993). "Application of cognitive, skill-based, and affective theories of learning outcomes to new methods of training evaluation." Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 311-328.
  • McKeachie, W. J. (1999). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (10thEdition). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.