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2.1.2 Writing Learning Objectives

One way to think about writing learning objectives is to think about it in the following process:

A (audiences),

B (behaviors),

C (conditions),

D (degree)

A. Audience:

Who are you addressing? What are the individual learning needs as well as any group needs?

Example: the incoming class of grade eight students will be able to understand how the library classifies books.

B.. Behaviors:

What do the students have to do in order to show that they have learned the lesson? This should be an overt, observable behavior, even if the actual behavior is covert or mental in nature. If you can’t see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it, you can’t be sure your audience really learned it.Example: identify parts of the library to answer questions about using ita resource for learning.

C. Condition:

How? Under what circumstances or context will the learning occur? What will the student be given or already be expected to know to accomplish the learning?Example: after participating in a 50-minute orientation session, the students will:

  • Name the services available to help them with their information needs.
  • Locate the library resources.
  • Access the online catalog and index pages. Practice Searching in the library.

D. Degree:

As a teacher, you have to decide what level your students are at. Under what circumstances will the learning take place? What skills will be demonstrated to show that learning is occurring? What is the expected level of accomplishment?

How much? How much will be accomplished, how well will the behavior need to be performed, and to what level? Do you want total mastery (100%), do you want them to respond correctly 80% of the time, etc. A common (and totally non-scientific) setting is 80% of the time.

Often, when writing learning objectives, we are tempted to use the words “understand” or “appreciate” to say what the learner will be able to do. These are vague terms and not easily measurable. For the most effective assessment of the learning experience, use only measurable action verbs that clearly describe what you expect from the learner.

When this information is shared with the students, they will have a strong understanding of what is expected of them and how they can demonstrate it.

In this particular example of a learning objective, the verbs “name”, “identify”, “locate””, “access”, and “practice” are activities and behaviors that are measurable. We suggest that you write your learning objectives using action verbs.

A great deal of scientific studies and teacher experiences has focused on a taxonomy (or scale) that describes how students learn. We call this cognitive learning. Though building a memory and recalling facts are all important factors in being an educated person, cognitive learning also has to do with how students gain skills in learning through:

  • Comprehending information
  • Organizing ideas.
  • Analyzing and synthesizing data.
  • Applying knowledge.
  • Choosing from alternatives in problem-solving.
  • Evaluating ideas or actions

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