If you’ve created or are thinking of creating a training program for your employees or colleagues, one of the most important aspects you need to nail down is learning objectives.
Objectives give your training focus. They answer the million-dollar question: “What’s in it for me?” for every training program and they help your trainees have a clear idea of what they can achieve after completing the training.
As a learning and development professional, you want to create the best learning objectives that will make people interested and invested in your training.
Let’s take a look at how you can write learning objectives effectively and some of the training plans you can use to build upon our learning objectives. You can then start creating these lesson plans using Venngage for Training and Development teams.
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What is a good learning objective?
An effective learning objective is clear, actionable and measurable.
As your trainees read the learning objectives, they should be able to know what they can get out of the course or what they can do after completing the course, why they should do it and how it will help them.
If possible, you can even make your learning objectives SMART: Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-bound.
If you’re creating a course on Infographic Design, for example, the learning objective can be:
“By the end of this course, learners can design an infographic using [the tool name] that helps them communicate their business goals effectively.”
Did you know we have a FREE course that helps you become an Infographic Design Pro? Check it out:
How to write learning objectives effectively
Here are five easy tips to write actionable learning objectives for any course.
Establish your learner’s knowledge level
You need a knowledge baseline for your course because this will indicate the average knowledge and experience every trainee has about the subject. Thus, you can determine the amount of change or value your course can provide your trainees.
Most courses help learners achieve changes in the areas of ASK (attitude, skill and knowledge). The acronym also pertains to the course’s affective, psychomotor and cognitive learning effects.
Here’s a quick reference card to help you assess your learner’s knowledge level easily:
- Attitude/Affective: “Choice” is the right keyword regarding attitude or affective learning. This aspect deals with feelings and emotions. Measuring affective learning objectives can be tricky because it requires you to define your goals as accurately as possible.
- Skills/Psychomotor: Instructors can easily measure skill-focused courses with performance-based objectives. Teachers will have the easiest time making objectives and teaching psychomotor courses because of their defined nature.
- Knowledge/Cognitive: Pre-lesson learning assessments are crucial for knowledge-based courses. Expanding your student’s base knowledge is the core of cognitive classes.
Here’s an example of a course outline that states clearly who the target audience of the course is:
Remember ABCD—the four components of objectives
Each objective should have the following components:
- Audience: Define your audience. Who is going to take your course? Common words to use are “learners”, “students”, “trainees” or in specific business cases, “employees”.
- Behavior: Determine the action that your learner will take while learning the course or when completing the course. Make sure you use action verbs.
- Condition: State the conditions you expect your learners to conduct the Behavior—this could be the tools, aids or materials your learners can or cannot refer to.
- Degree of Change/Mastery: State the criteria for acceptable performance or in other words, how well your learners should complete the task.
Let’s say you want your employees to take phishing training. The course can look like this:
Based on this method, here are some learning objective examples for this course:
- After the course, employees will be able to explain the characteristics of a phishing email.
- After the course, employees who have fallen for a scam will successfully take the four actions required to deal with that situation.
If you’re interested in seeing some other course outlines or course presentation templates, check out these blog posts:
Use the right set of action verbs
Action verbs are simple to understand because they tell your students what to do. For example, the word “explain” works well for knowledge learning objectives. Alternatively, “assemble” focuses on skill-based coursework.
The right set of action verbs gives your trainees optimal focus for every course lesson. Thus, avoid choosing action verbs that are clunky, uncommon and confusing. For example, avoid using the phrase “put a figure on” as a synonym for “calculate.”
Let’s go back to the phishing course above. You can see that the word “explain” is used for one of the learning objective examples:
After the course, employees will be able to explain the characteristics of a phishing email.
instead of non-action verbs like “recognize” or “understand”. This gives the learning objective a clear focus and sets straight what actions learners are expected to take upon completion of the course.
Make sure the objective is measurable
By using measurable learning objectives, instructors determine how well learners can understand course materials. They will also be able to look for course issues and improvements when comparing students’ performance with expected results from the learning objectives.
You can accurately state and measure each student’s performance with clear objectives and action verbs. For example, using the verb “explain” helps learners understand that instructors will measure their performance through their topic explanation, discussion or presentation.
Think of learning objectives as your checkpoints
Your objectives serve as checkpoints for your students. Every objective your learners achieve is a step towards your course’s top goal.
You can quickly create checkpoints by stating their ultimate course objective and working backward. Next, you must identify the sub-steps to achieve this ultimate objective. Then, you can further break down these sub-steps into smaller micro-steps.
You can use a mind map template like this one to help branch out ideas for your learning objectives:
This will help you come up with learning objectives that coordinate with different phases of the course.
Training materials and course outlines with learning objectives
Learning objectives generally are stated within a course outline. Let’s take a look at some training materials and course outline templates with learning objective examples you can use:
Corporate training material presentation template: ADDIE model
This training program outline in the style of a presentation and is suitable to be used when you’re presenting in person to your colleagues, or when you’re presenting online on Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
Notice “Takeaway” box:
This box summarizes the learning from each slide, but you can use it to state your learning objectives as well.
You can easily customize this template for your corporate training program with Venngage’s drag-and-drop editor. You can even apply your branding to it by using My Brand Kit, in just one click:
A Venngage for Business user can export presentation templates in PowerPoint format and use them with PowerPoint or Google Slides:
For more training material examples, read the article: How to Make Engaging Training Materials with Visuals (+ 20 Template Examples)
Learning objective examples: Math lesson plan
This Math Lesson Plan template has a completely separate section dedicated to learning goals and success criteria:
Notice the use of action verbs like “describe”, “solve”, “evaluate”, “write” and more.
Once you’ve done editing the plan, you can easily export it as a PDF or Interactive PDF (if you want your links to be clickable):
For more lesson plan examples, check out this post: 27+ Lesson Plan Examples for Effective Teaching [TIPS + TEMPLATES]
In summary: Easily follow your actionable learning objective results
Making actionable learning objectives doesn’t have to be a grueling task. You can create and visualize your actionable learning objectives by using our easy-to-edit templates and drag-and-drop editor. No design experience required.