Write Performance-Based Learning Objectives
In order to successfully compare desired vs. actual states and identify learning gaps, we will need to ensure that our instruction is directly linked to learning objectives that are clear, measurable, and criterion-referenced. Without clear learning objectives, how do you know you are successful? Good objectives help focus instruction on where it is needed most, reducing time and effort on planning, organizing, and delivering instruction.
Good, clear objectives provide three primary components: an event or triggering condition, a directly observable or measurable action, and a degree of criteria needed for success.
Source: Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J.O. (2009). The systematic design of instruction (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Using some of the details from the chart, review these examples and write down ways to make them more detailed and performance-oriented.
- Learners will understand the basic anatomy of a healthy eye compared to one with cataracts.
- Learners will assess and educate a simulated patient for hypertension.
These may seem like obvious examples of vague objectives, but how many times have you seen similar objectives like these before? The first objective does not provide a clear trigger or event, omits any observable behaviors or skills learners must demonstrate, and does not specify how this objective can be evaluated or achieved using concrete criteria. The second objective assumes some of these missing factors, but still omits them. Compare your answers to some revised examples here:
- When presented with images of eyes containing cataracts, learners will identify and explain 3 physiological characteristics not found in a healthy eye.
- In a simulated outpatient clinic scenario, learners will assess a pre-hypertensive patient for risk of cardiovascular disease by taking a 4-question family history.
|Identify each part of our revised objectives as a Situation, Action, or Criteria. Drag the items below and drop them next to their corresponding boxes in order to make a successful match.|
As you can see, these revised objectives can now be easily observed, assessed, and verified for successful completion of demonstrable skills, actions, or application/recall of knowledge. These objectives will be the basis of our assessment strategy, course or instructional evaluation, analysis of learning outcomes, comparison of similar instruction, assessment of prior knowledge and prerequisite skills, basis for further instruction, and other important factors or processes found in a typical design cycle.
You may start a new course or lesson plans with objectives that look more like the first set, but always strive to clarify them by identifying their underlying performance components as much as possible, even if some of it seems obvious or tedious. This habit will ensure that later planning is smooth and on target.
- Drafting Instructional Objectives
- Writing quality learning objectives
- Writing learning objectives: Beginning with the end in mind
- Easy template for writing learning objectives
- A model of learning objectives (Interactive tool using Bloom's revised taxonomy)