What’s Your Objective?

In almost everything we do, we perform better when we have clear goals or objectives.  It’s how we get closer to a successful outcome.  That’s why it is so important to make time to develop learning objectives before you move forward with any training plans.  They are the roadmap you will follow and the benchmark you will use to measure your success.

Learning objectives should describe behaviors that are observable and measurable.  What should learners be able to do, under what conditions and process and what is the level of proficiency necessary to perform the task, process or procedure.  Be clear on the objectives.  Are you asking for awareness where the learner is familiar with terms, concepts, processes, or procedures? Are you expecting the learner to be knowledgeable and have a general understanding of concepts, processes, or procedures?  Or are you developing performance objectives and asking the learning to demonstrate skills at least at a specific level of competency?

Guidelines to keep in minds

Here are the basic rules to follow as you develop your objectives:

Be precise.  The learner must meet your objective.  Will they understand what you are asking them to do?

Use action words.  You are asking someone to perform some type of activity.  What is that activity?

Keep it simple. Don’t ask for too much.  Is the objective achievable?

Make it measurable.  What was the skills gap you identified in the needs assessment that you performed before you sat down to develop you learning objectives?  Which processes and tasks can your training improve and how you will know when improvement is happening?

Keep objectives to a minimum.  Don’t try to cover too much in any single learning event.  Research tells us that we can only juggle 2 to 4 chunks of information in our working memory at one time.

Writing your objectives

A learning objective is made up of three parts.  Start with identifying the necessary performance –the skills, knowledge or attitude that you want people to learn.  Next determine what conditions the learner performs the objective. In some instances, the training environment itself is the condition.  This plays a larger role as we move to blended learning plans where the type of learning is selected specifically because it the best option for the content.  Include the criteria you expect the learner to follow.

Sample Objective

Learning Objective Graphic

The importance of learning objectives is significant.  They communicate expected outcomes from the learning and define the desired competence or performance to reach success.  They keep both the learner and the trainer on the right path.

About the author: Tami Schiller

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