Faculty attending lecture

Learning Objectives

A learning objective is a statement of what students will be able to do when they have completed an individual unit of instruction, such as skills, knowledge, and attitudes (Dick & Carey, 1978).
According to Magner, a learning objective has three major components:

Performance/Behavior

The Performance component is a description of the behavior that learners are expected to perform. It should be measurable and observable. It describes what the learner will be doing when demonstrating mastery of an objective.

Conditions

The Conditions component of an objective is a description of the circumstances under which the performance will be carried out.

Criterion

The Criterion is a description of the criteria for acceptance of a performance as sufficient, indicating mastery of the objective. In other words, how well must it be done?


Example of an objective statement:

“Given a set of data the students will be able to compute the standard deviation.”

This objective statement has the following components:
Condition: Given a set of data
Performance/Behavior: The student will be able to compute the standard deviation
Criterion (implied): The number computed will be correct


Course Goals and Learning Objectives

students working

How does an objective compare to a goal statement?

 

A course goal is a statement of the intended general outcomes of an instructional unit/module or program. Goal statements describe global learning outcomes and are demonstrated at the course level.

 

A learning objective is a statement of one of several specific performances, the achievement of which contributes to the attainment of the goal, and is illustrated within a learning unit. A single goal may have many specific learning objectives.

Learning Objectives are Guides…

  • to a selection of content
  • to the development of an instructional strategy
  • to the development and selection of instructional materials
  • to the development and facilitation of online interactives
  • to the construction of tests and other instruments for assessing and evaluating student learning outcomes
Learning Objectives with Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives

revised blooms taxonomy

Educators have given considerable thought to the various types of learning that occurs in educational environments. The most comprehensive and widely known analysis of objectives is the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives by Benjamin Bloom and others (Arreola, 1998). In 1956, Benjamin Bloom developed what is commonly referred to as Bloom’s Taxonomy, illustrating the development of higher-ordered thinking skills. The framework developed by Bloom and his collaborators is made up of six major categories:

Knowledge – Comprehension – Application – Analysis – Synthesis – Evaluation



In the 1990s a new group of cognitive psychologists, lead by Lorin Anderson
(a former student of Bloom), revised the taxonomy to fit 21st-century educational practices. The image to the right is a preview of an interactive version of Bloom’s Taxonomy which helps provide examples of activities and assignments for each level in the taxonomy.

Bloom's taxonomy wheel


Active Verbs Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy

 Knowledge  Understand  Apply  Analyze Evaluate   Create
define

identify

describe

label

list

name

state

match

recognize

explain

describe

interpret

paraphrase

summarize

classify

compare

differentiate

discuss

 solve

apply

illustrate

modify

use

calculate

change

choose

demonstrate

 analyze

compare

classify

contrast

distinguish

infer

separate

explain

select

reframe

criticize

evaluate

order

appraise

judge

support

compare

decide

 design

compose

create

plan

combine

formulate

invent

hypothesize

substitute

Learning Objectives for Online and Hybrid Courses

In an online or hybrid course, each learning unit should have clear, measurable objectives containing all three components above (condition, behavior, criterion). These objectives guide the learner in understanding what they will be expected to know or do as a result of the unit’s completion. All of the subject content, learning activities and assessments in the unit should be aligned with these objectives. Visit our Online and Hybrid Learning page for more details.

For more guidance on strengthening your online pedagogical strategies to align with your learning objectives, we encourage you to consult with our Instructional Designers. To set up a meeting, visit the Instructional Design Consultation page.