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:
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.
The Conditions component of an objective is a description of the circumstances under which the performance will be carried out.
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
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
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:
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.
Active Verbs Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy
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.