Learning Objectives, Goals, and Outcomes (Video) (2023)

What do you consider to be the foundation of a good lesson?

There are many options to consider, such as the hook that grabs students’ attention, guided practice with teacher feedback, and the assessment that collects data about student learning.

All parts of a carefully designed lesson are important for student learning. However, there is one component in particular, the learning objective, that sets the stage for everything else.

In this video, we will define the term learning objective and explain why these objectives are important. We will also describe how to write strong learning objectives that can be used to guide the lesson-planning process. Let’s get started!

What are learning objectives?

Learning objectives are descriptions of what students are expected to do by the end of a lesson. In other words, they identify the lesson’s intended outcomes.

While we are focusing on learning objectives for individual lessons in this video, it is important to note that broader objectives may also be written for an entire course, unit, or chapter. The objectives for individual lessons are related to those broader objectives.

For example, a lesson-level objective for first graders may focus on being able to add to ten using ten frames, while the objective for the whole unit may focus on being able to add and subtract within 20 using a variety of strategies.

Types of Learning Objectives

There are three main types of learning objectives.

Cognitive objectives focus on mental skills and knowledge, such as learning to determine the perimeter of a shape. This type of objective is common in most classrooms.

Psychomotor objectives focus on physical skills, such as learning how to properly dribble a basketball.

Affective objectives focus on feelings, values, and attitudes, such as learning how to receive constructive feedback without becoming offended.

Why are learning objectives important?

Writing learning objectives is an important part of the instructional design process and is necessary for alignment. Using a backward design model, once the learning objectives for a lesson have been written, an assessment aligned with those objectives is developed to determine if students have met the lesson expectations. The learning objectives are also used to guide the creation of learning activities, as expectations for student performance should drive the instructional process.

If learning objectives are missing, the teacher cannot determine if students have met the expectations for the lesson, as there are no criteria against which to compare student performance.

When students are given the learning objectives at the start of a lesson, they will also understand what is expected of them and be better able to self-assess their learning.

Components of Strong Learning Objectives

Let’s take a look at a sample learning objective and break it down into its components.

Given an unlabeled image of an animal cell, students will identify 11 out of 13 components correctly.

This objective follows the ABCD approach.

Audience

The A stands for audience, or the learners who are expected to meet the expectation. In this objective, the students are the audience.

This component is sometimes omitted from the objective if the intended audience is clear. For example, a classroom teacher typically writes all learning objectives for the same group of students. In this case, the teacher may omit the word students and simply say:

Given an unlabeled image of a cell, identify 11 out of 13 components correctly.

Behavior

The B stands for behavior, or what the students will be expected to do. It is also sometimes referred to as the performance component of the objective, and it should include a specific action verb. In this case, the behavior is to identify the components of an animal cell, with identify being the verb.

This part of the objective is particularly important. The objective must be observable so that the teacher can watch to see if students have met the expectations. It must also be specific and measurable. Selecting a specific action verb is a vital part of this process.

While selecting objectives, many teachers turn to Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. This framework discusses six categories which are arranged in order from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills.

Each skill or ability beyond knowledge is built on the previous one, indicating that a student could not, for example, jump from “comprehension” to “analysis” without mastering the “application” stage. After Benjamin Bloom and his collaborators published the taxonomy in 1956, professionals in the field of education began to associate verbs with certain stages in the taxonomy, and many educators reference lists or organizers that give examples, like this one, when selecting specific verbs for their learning objectives.

Depending on the age of their students and the subject they are teaching, some teachers work toward building strong foundations in the bottom three categories of the taxonomy, while others try to keep their students working within the upper three categories to promote critical thinking skills.

It’s important to note here that vague verbs, like know and understand, should be avoided. Not only would these behaviors be difficult for teachers to observe and measure, they present imprecise instructions to students.

Condition

The C stands for condition. This part of the objective outlines under what condition the learning will occur. This part of the objective commonly lists any manipulatives or tools available to the students or the setting in which the learning will take place. The condition part of this learning objective states that students will be given an unlabeled image of an animal cell rather than having to create one from memory.

The condition often comes at the beginning of a learning objective, as in this example.

Degree

The D stands for degree, or how well the students are expected to perform the behavior. It is also sometimes referred to as the criteria component. The objective may state an expected percentage of accuracy or identify a specific number of items that must be done correctly. In this objective, correctly identifying 11 out of 13 components is the degree.

Practice

Now, let’s look at a few sample learning objectives to see how well they follow the ABCD approach.

Example 1

Given a hundreds chart, students will understand how to skip count by 5s.

Does this learning objective contain all of the ABCD components?

This objective identifies the audience, the students.

It attempts to identify the expected behavior, but it uses a vague rather than a specific verb. It is difficult to observe and measure whether or not students actually understand something, as that may be interpreted by people differently.

It identifies the condition by stating that students will have access to a hundreds chart.

It is missing the degree, as it does not explain how well students are expected to perform the skip counting.

Example 2

Given a hundreds chart, students will skip count by 5s to 100 with 90% accuracy.

This objective identifies the audience, the students.

It identifies the expected behavior using a specific verb, saying “will skip count by 5s to 100.”

It identifies the condition by stating that students will have access to a hundreds chart.

It identifies the degree, stating that students need to demonstrate the behavior with 90% accuracy.

Review

Let’s review what we learned in this video.

  • Learning objectives are descriptions of what students are expected to do by the end of a lesson.
  • There are three main types of learning objectives: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Cognitive objectives focus on mental skills or knowledge and are common in school settings.
  • Learning objectives written with the ABCD approach have four components: the audience, behavior, condition, and degree.
  • Learning objectives should be observable, specific, and measurable. They should contain specific rather than vague action verbs.

Questions

Let’s practice what we’ve learned with a couple of review questions.

1. A teacher writes the following learning objective on the board at the beginning of a new lesson. Evaluate the learning objective to determine how well it follows the ABCD approach.

Given a ruler, students will calculate the perimeter of a polygon.

This learning objective identifies the audience, the students. It identifies the expected behavior, calculating the perimeter of a polygon, using a specific action verb. It also identifies the condition, stating that students will have access to a ruler. However, it is missing the degree, such as the expected percentage of accuracy or the number of problems the students are expected to solve correctly out of a total.

2. Two teachers that work in the same middle school are writing learning objectives for the upcoming week. One teaches math, and the other teaches physical education. In what ways might their learning objectives be similar and different?

The math teacher may write more cognitive learning objectives that focus on mental skills and knowledge, while the PE teacher may write more psychomotor objectives that focus on physical skills. Both may follow the ABCD approach to ensure that their objectives are observable, specific, and measurable.

That’s all for now, thanks for watching and happy studying!

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dean Jakubowski Ret

Last Updated: 11/15/2022

Views: 5657

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dean Jakubowski Ret

Birthday: 1996-05-10

Address: Apt. 425 4346 Santiago Islands, Shariside, AK 38830-1874

Phone: +96313309894162

Job: Legacy Sales Designer

Hobby: Baseball, Wood carving, Candle making, Jigsaw puzzles, Lacemaking, Parkour, Drawing

Introduction: My name is Dean Jakubowski Ret, I am a enthusiastic, friendly, homely, handsome, zealous, brainy, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.