Developing Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives are not just for teachers, they are for the students. Having well thought-out learning objectives is thefoundation for class planning. These objectives need to state what the students will be able to know and what they will do when they complete the lesson. At this stage, they are to be specific, measurable, short-term, and observable. They need to be written to measure the students’ performance and skill, not our teaching knowledge. So, they need to be simple and brief. They should also account for student behavior as in skills.  Even though we know what and how to teach, the student needs to know the “what” and “how.” Thus, learning objectives gives them the map for their path to success.  

A Learning Objective is a statement that communicates the lesson point(s) to the student:

  • What is the specific information or skill that is desired?
  • What are the method and standards for student achievement for success?

In this way,the learning is focused, and students have the direction to stay on task. As research states, when students will know what is expected of them and what they are to learn, which will significantly increase the ability of the students to learn (https://www.nap.edu/read/9457/chapter/4).     

With proper learning objectives, attached with the right capacity verbs, students will improve academically, and behavior problems will significantly decrease.

Teacher tip, to be an exceptional teacher, the lessons needs to come from the heart of our desire to teach and care for the students.

Goals verses Objectives

Learning objectives are not goals. Goals are the short, clear statement of the desired learning outcomes that are to be achieved at the end of the lesson.  The objectives are the means to get there. Objectives are non-specific, general with a purpose, what will be the means of the achievements. They are usually long term. Goals help the student know what is expected, objects are how we will get there. A goal may be to “understand,” to “acquire knowledge,” or to “develop skills,” or to “appreciate…”

The goals are the desired result you want for your students to achieve; they give direction and are not measurable. Students will know what they need to know and be able to do.

Example:

You will be able to use past tenses to talk about the things you used to do when you were younger.

You will develop and demonstrate proficiency (insert standard) in (Specific project) writing and verbal skills.

Learning Objectives clearly define the extent of the goal, and are measurable and observable skills / behaviors. The teacher will know what the skills are and what is to be assessed.

Example:

Students will be able to accurately use common irregular verbs in the past tense.

Students will be able to write and produce a historical analysis video.

A learning objective is the specific statements you want the students to do, that are the observable behaviors that can be evaluated.  Then, the objective contributes to reach the general goal. Objectives are specific that the goals point to. They comprise many objectives that must be reached to achieve the desired outcome.

A Learning Objective is always written with the end goal(s) in mind.  What we need to do first is to identify the overall goal.  Then, we can write each Learning Objective as a step by step process towards reaching those goals. 

Writing a Measurable Learning Objective (Compiled from what I learned from “Teacher Ready”)

Learning Objectives are not just for you, they are for your students.

Look at the Standard, then:

  • First, Identify the noun, or thing you want students to learn.
  • Second, Identify the level of knowledge you want students to attain.
  • Third, select a Capability Verb that is observable to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning.
  • Forth, add additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be observable to add context for the student. This leads to assessment.

The Capability Verbs are to describe a specific and measurable or observable behavior, like construct, compare, illustrate.  Verbs that are cognitive domain action words (see previous post on Capability Verbs).

Dr. Richard Krejcir is an Author, Researcher, seasoned Special Education teacher and the Director of a nonprofit that does educational training in third-world countries. He is also a STEAM teacher and a father of a son with autism.

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