Friday, January 6, 2012

3 Basic Ingredients of a Learning Objective

Like a great recipe in a treasured cookbook, every dish depends on the best ingredients. Lesson plans are the same way.

Putting a great lesson plan together requires solid objectives, which many faculty find difficult to write. Let's take a look at the three key ingredients to any learning objective and see if we can't come up with a terrific learning dish.

#1 Place one stem in large bowl

First, describe the conditions under which the objective will be met. That's your stem.

You can use a blanket condition, such as:
  • After completing this lesson, the student will…
  • After this unit, the student will…
  • By the end of this session, the student will…
You can also use specific conditions that describe the circumstances, commands, materials, or directions you'll give the student to help them meet the objective. Examples include the following:
  • Given readings in the textbook and online research, the student will…
  • Given a lab partner and pertinent materials, the student will…
  • On request, student will…

#2 Sprinkle in one or more active verbs

This is the part I love. Add an active verb. (See the big list at the bottom of this post.)

Use a verb that fits the task and also the level of learning desired, such as knowing, understanding, analyzing, and so forth.

#3 Add 1 heaping tablespoon of product, process, or outcome

Here's the meat of the recipe, the actual task. Plunk here what you want the student to do.

Keep it simple and direct, so it can be measured.

#4 Whip it all together

Here are some examples of complete objectives.
  • Given readings in the textbook and online research, the student will be able to trace the flow of blood through the heart.
  • After this unit, the student will be able to take an accurate blood pressure.
  • By the end of this session, the student will be able to list three common side effects of anticoagulants.
Okay, let's eat!

Active verbs

Keep a list like this handy when writing objectives.

Click to enlarge.

Additional resources