Learning objectives are a key part of effective training materials. Create and use them correctly, and you're well on your way to helping your employees learn the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need.
Neglect to use them, or misuse them, and you're setting yourself at a serious disadvantage right out of the gate.
At the bottom of this page, you can download a pretty-near-definitive guide that covers a lot of the basics about learning objectives. If you're new to training or looking for a refresher, the guide may be helpful.
The guide that you can download below includes extensive information on the following subjects:
To put it simply, a learning objective describes what your learners should be able to do after they complete your training materials. In many cases, you'll probably have a series of learning objectives instead of just one.
You should create your learning objectives before creating your training content. Once you have them, you can use your learning objectives as guides while you create your training content and design your training assessments.
There are several key reasons to use learning objectives in your training materials. Implemented correctly, learning objectives serve to:
Note: we discuss everything above and more in our recorded discussion on creating learning objectives with the well-known learning researcher Dr. Patti Shank.
In learning and development circles, SMART is an acronym (fancy word!) that represents five different criteria to determine if you've created a good learning objective. According to the SMART method, your learning objectives should be:
You can read more about SMART learning objectives here.
A simple way to make sure you’re building a useful learning objective is to use the ABCD method. Each letter in ABCD stands for a different part of your learning objective. These different parts answer four questions about your objective: who, what, how, and how well.
Read more on ABDC learning objectives here.
In job training, we're generally more concerned with job performance instead of whether or not people learn, even if it's true that learning can help facilitate that desired improvement in job performance.
The classic learning theorist Robert Mager wrote about "performance-based learning objectives" to focus on the idea of real job performances, not just learning. You might have noticed in our interview with Dr. Patti Shank on learning objectives.
You might want to read more about Mager's performance-based learning objectives here.
This guide includes all or nearly all of the traditional learning & development wisdom about learning objectives. In some cases, trainers have recently decided to depart from some of these traditional rules of thumb. For example, there's a little debate about whether or not it's necessary or helpful to present the learning objectives as a list to the learners in the beginning of training (some trainers believe you should leave that out, or that you should present that information in a more engaging, exciting manner than dry list).
To that point, here's a nice article about different ways to present learning objectives to your learning audience.
In addition, once you've got the hang of the traditional basics, you may later realize you don't always have to create a four-part objective, or you may decide never to use a "knowledge" learning objective and always create "skill" objectives, or...
You get the point. There's more to learn. But like we said, this will get the basics for you.
Once you know the basics, you can decide which basics you want to use and which you don't.
So why not download the free guide to writing learning objectives now?