Creating Learning Objectives

July 17, 2018

Creating Learning Objectives Is Critical Initial Step in Planning a Program and Assessing Learning

ISU Extension and Outreach’s primary product is research-based programs. As an initial first step in planning a quality program, it is important to begin with the end in mind; create program learning objectives that align with the program’s intended outcomes.

When developing learning objectives, it is helpful to remember the acronym SMART. Learning objectives should be:

S = specific.

M = measureable.

A = action-oriented/attainable.

R = realistic/relevant.

T = timely/time oriented.

Ideally, research-based programs and corresponding learning objectives should address multiple levels of learning (e.g., remembering, understanding, applying). Bloom’s Taxonomy, which will be discussed in next month’s Program Evaluation Update article, is an exceptional tool to help develop lower to higher level action-oriented learning and critical thinking objectives.

Consider the following example of a personal learning objective: Is it SMART?

Over the next 120 days, I will implement two strategies for managing my work time that will allow a 6:00 p.m. arrival home time, three days per work week, to achieve a better work-life balance.

Call to Action: Take time to practice writing SMART objectives for a new program you are developing. Several resources were created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assist in writing SMART objectives. The resources are Evaluation Briefs: Writing SMART Objectives and Evaluation Guide: Writing SMART Objectives.