What is a Learning Objective?
Last Updated : Saturday, 11 August 2007 by Mike Zandvliet  Rating : 1.0 out of 5 by 1 users  

Learning Objectives are the fundamental building blocks of your syllabus. They are what your instructors base their lessons on, your students learn and practice, and your assessors use to test that learning.

Learning Objectives (LO's) are specific and measurable items, and should always be written from the students perspective. They do not describe what the instructor should do, but rather what is required of the student. When making them you should think of them as the smallest chunk of learning. The level of detail you put into a LO is up to you, but typically a one hour lesson would cover maybe 4-10 Learning Objectives.

An example of a LO in a first aid lesson would be:

Title - "Protecting the Airway - head tilt / chin lift method"
Performance - "Student must demonstrate the correct method for protecting the airway using the head tilt/chin lift method. Student must be able to explain in what situations this should be used, and when not to use."
Standard - "Student must tilt head back sufficiently to allow the airway to open, but not so far that the neck is strained. A firm grip using thumb and forefingers should be used to lift the chin."
Conditions - "Student should be given time to ask questions and practice this method (on either a mannikin or human subject).
Comments - "This LO is the 'A' in the primary survey - ABC. For patients with suspected neck or spinal injuries the modified jaw thrust is the preferred technique for protecting the airway."

As you can see, this example Learning Objective is very specific. When you are creating LO's for physical skills, it is very easy to get into this level of detail if you wish. This is particularly useful for the students if they are allowed to view the syllabus or assessment criteria.

Keep in mind that to create a syllabus that is this detailed will potentially take a long time, and you will need to know the subject matter extremely well.

Learning Objectives are a great way to ensure commonality between instruction, practice and assessment. If an assessor is given the same criteria to work from as the original instructor, then we can be confident the students will not be surprised by tasks that they did not cover in class.

The three main components of a Learning Objective are Performance, Standards and Criteria (PSC).

The Performance part describes what specifically the students are required to do. When learning a physical skill, the student should as much as possible actually do the skill themselves. For knowledge learning, it may be easier to discuss the topic to a point where the students can answer questions from the instructor. When imparting specific attitudes to the students, they can demonstrate the logical basis for those attitudes through discussion or exercises.

Standards are either descriptions about how good the student has to be at something, or references to industry standards. An example would be: "student must score at least 75% on the written test" or "Student must follow the process as defined in the NFPA standard". If you do reference outside documents, try and give specific links to them so instructors can easily make use of the standards.

Conditions describe under what circumstances the student is expected to complete the learning, practice or assessment. You may choose to make this component multi-use. For example: "When learning, the student has 10 minutes to complete the procedure and may use all references. Under assessment the student has 5 minutes to complete the procedure and is not allowed any references, and may not discuss with anyone."

The less experienced your instructors are, the more detail you will need to place in the Learning Objective.


Related Articles:
How to Create a Syllabus

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