Writing Learning Objectives

Last Updated: March 13th, 2018

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When designing a course it is important to know what you want students to achieve during the semester. Ideally, students who receive a passing grade should master a set of skills they can take with them and apply in future coursework or in their career or discipline upon graduation.

We use a variety of assessments to measure whether students have mastered these skills, but it’s important during the design stage to make sure that your assessments do in fact measure each of these skills, and that the assessment is able to confirm whether students have achieved mastery.

Writing learning objectives that are specific, measurable, and student-centered allows the creation of assignments, tests, and projects which are well-aligned with the skills you expect the students to master, and are an effective framework to use when designing a course from scratch, or in translating a course from one medium (e.g., face-to-face) to another (e.g., blended environment, or fully online).

It is helpful to revisit your learning objectives from semester to semester, even for established courses. Course design is an iterative process, and there is always room to evolve and improve upon an existing course. We recommend taking some time at the beginning and end of every semester to review your course learning objectives and to examine what improvements you may be able to make to better align your course content with the expectations you have for your students.

Additional Resources

Module 2 of the CITT Instructional Design Workshop focuses on measurable learning objectives and how to align them to learning activities and assessments. This is a self-paced online workshop in e-Learning.

Why do I need to write objectives?

UNC Charlotte’s Center for Teaching and Learning provides a list of Best Practices, including the following pages focused on Goals and Objectives:

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,
  • Developing Objectives and Relating them to Assessment,
  • Objectives: Action Verbs with Examples,
  • Writing Objectives Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation offers sample learning objectives for courses in the following areas:

  • Engineering & Technology
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities & Social Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Business

Supporting Research

Mager, Robert F. (1997). Preparing Instructional Objectives, Third Edition, Atlanta, Georgia: The Center for Effective Performance, Inc.

Accessibility Statement

Keep accessibility in mind as you develop course content and build assignments and assessments. Many online tools are not fully accessible, so it’s important to think about how you will make the assignment accessible if requested. The Disability Resource Center and the UF Accessibility page will guide you in making appropriate accommodations. You can also find out more about accessibility at our toolbox page on Accessibility in the Online Classroom.

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