October 31, 2016

“A learning objective should describe what students should know or be able to do at the end of the course that they couldn’t do before.  Learning objectives should be about student performance.  Good learning objectives shouldn’t be too abstract (“the students will understand what good literature is”); too narrow (“the students will know what a ground is”); or be restricted to lower-level cognitive skills (“the students will be able to name the countries in Africa.”).

 Each individual learning objective should support the overarching goal of the course, that is, the thread that unites all the topics that will be covered and all the skills students should have mastered  .  .  .”   ( a definition included in the “Teaching Effectiveness Program” at the University of Oregon.)

Far too often, we forget the primary reasons behind any training solution we offer.  We spend too much of our time enchanted by the bells and whistles associated with technology.  We, mistakenly, believe that all training solutions offer the same benefits just because the title of the program fits our needs and the content is accurate.

However, the truth lies in the learning objectives associated with every training initiative because learning objectives are the bottom line reason for whatever training you provide.

Yet, yours is not an academic exercise.  You’re dealing in the real world.  And, it is paramount that, while the learning objectives may be easy to identify, you need to go one step further and determine their fit for your particular needs.

Here are some tips for evaluating your training courseware choices from a practical learning objectives point of view.

There are three primary factors you should consider.  The first is the makeup of the population being trained.  What are the characteristics of the learners in your organization?

Example, does the course you are evaluating use college level vocabulary when you know that the majority of the people you need to train cannot assimilate anything written above a fourth grade reading level?  Are the pictures and illustrations used in the proposed course similar to the types of equipment the learner will encounter on your shop floor?

Secondly, what “behavior changes” do you expect after the training has been completed?  Do you want the individual learners to be able to identify specific pieces of equipment?  Do you want them to be able to demonstrate their ability to perform a maintenance task while also using good work and safety practice?  And if so, does the course you are examining accomplish those objectives?

And, thirdly, does the course you are evaluating prepare the students for the conditions they will encounter?  Are they armed with the references, illustrations, graphs, and, most importantly, an electronic help desk (today, tablets and smartphones fill that need) — readily available when they are actually on-the-job?

Meaningful learning objectives will identify the desired outcomes; are consistent with your company’s goals; and, are specifically appropriate to your organization’s needs.

Happy Halloween!  More on Wednesday –  –  –


   — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)