Teaching Resources

Crafting Learning Objectives (printable sheet)

  1. Why are good learning objectives essential for any lesson?
    • Helps the teacher focus and organize the lesson plan
    • Helps the teacher test the success of the lesson
    • Helps the learner maintain attention and retain the presented material
    • Helps the learner judge the effectiveness of the lesson
  2. Where to present goals and objectives:
    The goal and objectives should be communicated in some form, ideally at the beginning of the lesson. The individual objectives are sometimes used to organize the lesson into sections. Finally, the lesson should conclude with a summary of the most important points reflecting the goals and objectives presented at the beginning.
  3. What is the difference between a Goal and Objective?
    • A goal is the underlying agenda or reason for the lesson
    • Effective objectives are specific desired outcomes needed to achieve the goal
    For example: You are asked to give a lecture on respiratory distress in children First step – focus the lesson: What is the most important thing this audience needs to know about this topic? There are many possibilities – the teacher should develop a focus for the lesson based on their understanding of the needs and interests of the audience.

    Goal: The learner will be able to recognize the clinical features of respiratory distress that distinguish common non-life threatening etiologies from life threatening conditions.
  4. Common Problems with Learning Objectives:
    •  Too general/vague
    •  Hard to measure
    •  Tend to focus only on facts
    Examples of poor objectives:
    Understand how to read an x-ray
    Appreciate the causes of hematuria
    Know when to order a head CT
  5. How to write learning objectives: 3 triads of constructing objectives

    3 Types of Objectives:
    • Knowledge objectives: data, facts
    • Attitude objectives: beliefs, support
    • Skill objectives: how-to
    Examples
    Knowledge: The learner will be able to cite 3 causes of stridor in a pediatric patient
    Attitude: The learner will be able to cite 3 reasons why asthma education is essential to prevent bad outcomes for children with this condition
    Skill: The learner will be able to demonstrate the 4 steps of intubation using direct laryngoscopy

    3 Components of Learning Objectives
    • Context – situation or condition
    • Learning point
    • Level of competence
    Examples: (Bold=context, Italics = Learning Point, Underlined = Level of Competence)

    At the end of the workshop the learner will successfully intubate a manniken using direct laryngoscopy with confirmation determined by lung inflation.

    At the end of the course the learner will correctly identify the 3 clinical signs of life threatening conditions associated with wheezing on a multiple choice test question prepared by the instructor

    At the end of the lecture the learner will be able to list 3 reasons why it is essential for every healthcare provider to maintain airway skills in a group discussion led by the instructor.

    3 meta-levels of learning
    • Rote/Knowledge (memorization): <50% retention @ 7 wks w/o using    information
    • Meaningful-Integrated: M-M-I 75-80% retention rate
       M: translate into everyday language
       M: translate into 3 languages: words, pictures & symbols
       I: interrelate concepts: how are ideas similar, different, interconnected?
    • Critical Thinking: unstructured cases, role play, debated, projects:
       ◊  highest retention
       ◊  lowest subject coverage
The following list provides action verbs that can measure different levels of understanding:

Knowledge
(to recall facts)
Comprehension
(to understand)
Application
(to apply concepts/
demo skills)
Identify
List
Define
Label
Name
Describe
Locate
Discuss
Give examples
Explain
Perform
Demonstrate
Use
Practice
Operate










Analysis
(use info/make
connections)
Synthesis
(formulation)
Evaluation
(judgment)
Diagram
Examine
Analyze
Compare, contrast
Formulate
Organize
Design, plan
Prepare
Rate
Revise
Evaluate
Appraise
Differentiate










Summary
It is neither always necessary nor useful to have every component in each learning objective; nor is it essential to have different types of learning objectives. Instructors are encouraged to tailor their goals and objectives to the audience and situation. These goals and objectives should be used to structure the lesson and limit the volume of material. Providing a variety of objectives aimed at different levels of learning will enhance the lesson. It IS essential to have specific objectives that serve a specific goal and to use these objectives and goals to craft your lesson.

Anderson et al., Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: a revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Education Objectives (Longman, 2000)

Gronlund, Writing Instructional Objectives for Teaching and Assessment (Prentice Hall 2003)