This micro-lesson is perfect for anyone who has ever felt lost in a sea of training industry jargon. I’ll break down the concept of learning objectives into bite-sized pieces so that you can impress your friends with your newfound knowledge.
What is a learning objective?
Think of learning objectives as the GPS that guides your learners to their final destination – the ability to perform a specific task or understand a particular concept. They are specific, measurable, and achievable statements that describe exactly what your learners should be able to do or understand by the end of the course or module.
Why do you need them?
How do you write a learning objective?
Here are the basic steps:
- Start your objective with an action verb that describes the specific task or skill you want the learner to be able to perform.
- Make sure your objective is specific, clear, and focused.
- Use measurable criteria to ensure you can assess whether or not the learner accomplished the learning objective.
- Include conditions (if applicable). These are any circumstances under which the learner will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge or skill—for example, tools required, amount of time to complete the task, etc.
- Identify the performance level. This typically identifies the minimum level of proficiency the learner is expected to achieve to meet the objective.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
By the end of this module, you can perform a venipuncture procedure to draw blood from a patient.
Action verb: perform
Clear and Specific: perform a venipuncture procedure to draw blood from a patient
Measurable Criteria: Successfully perform a venipuncture procedure on a patient at the first attempt. Draw an appropriate amount of blood and label the sample correctly for laboratory testing.
Conditions: Given access to a simulated patient arm or a live volunteer patient and necessary equipment such as a needle, tourniquet, and antiseptic swab.
Performance level: The venipuncture procedure must be performed correctly and safely with minimal discomfort or risk to the patient and meet the measurable criteria set for drawing blood and labeling the sample.
What does a poorly worded learning objective look like?
By the end of the course, learners will understand the process of drawing blood.
This objective is poorly written because it does not clearly specify what your learner should be able to do, nor does it provide any measurable criteria for assessing whether they have achieved the objective after completing the course.
The use of the word “understand” is vague and open to interpretation, which can lead to confusion and difficulty in assessing whether your learner has achieved the objective. Understand implies a level of comprehension, but it doesn’t specify what actions or behaviors your learner should be able to demonstrate.
If you only take away one thing from this post, it’s never to use the word understand, know, appreciate, grasp, or realize in your learning objectives.
The more you know
Now that you’ve mastered this micro-lesson share your new knowledge with a friend, family member, or colleague. Who knows, you may even impress them with your newfound expertise! Keep learning and growing; I’ll see you in the next micro-lesson.
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