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The ABCD Learning Objective Formula

I have used this formula for years, as a trainer for a major Bank, as a public speaker, and as a curriculum writer, and as a teacher. Keep in mind that Learning Objectives give the purpose of what the student will be learning. This serves as the foundation and the heart of our lesson plans. Good Objectives show what is expected of the student and deliver the measures for evaluating student achievement. And for the student, this shows them how they can succeed.

Here is a four-part ABCD formula for writing a successful Learning Objectives:

  1. Audience: (What level of student development is this designed for?  What learning styles will work best for them?  What are the specific needs of this group of students?)
    Who is your audience?  
    Who are you writing the Learning Objectives for?
  1. Behavior / Skill: (Describe a performance and identifies observable student behavior, example, be able to describe the parts of speech…)What is the behavior you are looking for? 
    What do you expect your audience to do?  
    What is the verb that represents the behavior?
  1. Conditions: (Clarifies the conditions in which the student is expected to perform.)  What will the student need in order to accomplish the Objective? Circumstances, tools, materials, and references needed, Like, Using a Laptop or Graphic Organizer. Given a set of data…, After examining the bacteria…, Working in groups of three…, In one minute…, Without your notes…)What are the conditions of the behavior?  
    How should students do it?  
    What tools will they be given to achieve success?
  1. Degree / Criteria: (criteria by which the student will be assessed and must be measurable, like, write at least three…, Incorporate one…, Revise two…, Identify all…,)What are the criteria you will use to measure success?  To what degree should the behavior be done?

Students need to know exactly what they need to do in order to be successful. Using this formula as a tool, a Learning Objective could be: Given a list of Algebra terms at the end of the lesson, the student will be able to accurately explain what each term means in two or three sentences. Or After watching the debate, the student will be able to write a one-page argument in favor or in disagreement of the topic.

Goal: You are to take a character from a piece of literature and showcase their traits using several storyboards.


  1. The student will select a historical character whose traits be similar to that of a literary character.
  2. The student will be able to list four major personality traits of the two characters and share two differences.
  3. The student will develop a short storyboard (of no more than 8 to 10 scenes) for a movie script that illustrates how the character would interact in the movie version of the story, including other characters as needed.

When sharing or posting Learning Goals or Objectives with students, which is critical to so, write “You,” “You can,” or “I can,” not “The student” will be able to.  Make it personal. Using “You” keeps the objective personal and friendly.

The hazards you can encounter, if the objectives are too long, or not specific enough, or includes more than one Objective, they will not work well. Then the desired skill will not be achieved nor be clear or measurable.

Introduce the Learning Objective before the lesson begins. 

Post them or give as a handout…. Objective that are best adhered to are centered around problem solving, then clear instruction. What are the and learning activities that will demonstrate the needed skills.  Also, develop your instructional strategies, materials for instruction, and assessment tools afterthe Learning Objectives for a lesson are established. This helps the flow and makes it much easier. Formative and summative assessments need to be congruent with the instruction, learning activities, everything needs to be aligned to the rest of your curriculum to be successful.

More ideas:

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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