Writing Proper Learning Objectives

At the beginning of a course you should be introduced to the Learning Objective.  The advantage of a properly written Learning Objective is that you can hold your learners to it.  That said, the learners can also hold you to it as well.  If you designed a course which stated the following Learning Objective;  

"By the end of this course you will know how to sell the company's products and services",

you would likely run into trouble as some students would not be able to sell the products and services.  In addition, how would you prove such a Learning Objective in a classroom environment.  I have seen and even written a few poorly constructed training objectives in my time.  Through experience and training I have learned what needs to go into a properly constructed Learning Objective.

The first thing you need to identify is the method of learner evaluation.  This will need to be a skill or knowledge that can be demonstrated within the classroom or online setting.  If your learners are going to write a multiple choice test at the end of a course, then selecting the correct answer during the test will be that performance, not how they might use that knowledge later on.

You will also need to include any conditions for this learning objective.  For example if there are specific tools needed to perform the skill or knowledge you will need to include them as part of your objective as well.  For example if they need a PC to log into a computer system you will need to state that.  It may seem obvious to us as trainers, however you would be surprised how something as obvious as a PC may be overlooked.

You also need to establish the standard that the learners will need to live up to.  This should be established by those who are requesting the training.  If they have not provided the standard then you will need to establish this before moving forward.  For example if learners need to be 100% accurate, or they need to perform the skill every day, or within a certain time frame, then this needs to be stated in the Learning Objective.

Here is a simple formula that you can use to help you write Learning Objectives of your own:

Given conditions>, the learner will be able to performance>, with standards>.

For example;

"Given a calculator, the learner will be able to calculate gross profit margin, with 100% accuracy."
"Given a spare tire, jack, and tire iron, the learner will be able to change a tire properly, within 15 minutes."

There are of course some variations on the wording that you can play around with, however this will generally work for all situations.  I also sometimes write "By the end of this training, the learner will..."  Somehow that rolls better off the tongue for me, but that's just my personal preference.