Writing Learning Objectives

Each learning objective should support the overarching goals of the course, and reflect the skills and knowledge that students should master by the end of the semester. Typically, the number of learning objectives is no more than six. These should be important, clearly stated, measurable (you have to be able to determine whether a student has met them), realistic, and match the level of the learner.

Getting Started

The following can help inform the development of learning objectives:

  • Compare and contrast learning objectives with the learning goals. Develop learning objectives which demonstrate Bloom’s higher levels of thinking (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.)
  • Use action oriented verbs such as “identify,” “construct,” “compare and contrast,” “interpret,” “diagram,” “translate,” “predict,” and “analyze.” Try to pinpoint a specific and observable behavior (use a measurable verb, e.g. “the student will be able to diagnose X”). Also, consider the circumstances within which the performance is to occur (e.g.in a clinical setting) and the tools that will be utilized (a stethoscope).
  • Avoid too much abstraction (e.g. “the students will understand what good literature is”). Also, avoid overly-narrow learning objectives (e.g. “the students will know what a biome is”).
  • Lastly, avoid vague verbs that cannot be measured such as to know, understand, enjoy, believe; instead use verbs which lend themselves to fewer interpretations such as to write, compare, identify, solve.

Additional Resources

  • Learning Objectives Samples – Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center offers samples from over 35 courses from various disciplines