Guidelines for Writing Learning Objectives
Measurable Behavioral Learning Objectives
Clear and measurable behavioral learning objectives are the foundation for planning an
educational activity. Here are some guidelines to assist with this process. Learning objectives
use an active verb to specify the behavior change you expect to be able to measure as a
result of the learning. A learning objective is measurable when the participant can perform a
task (list) identified in the learning objective.
An example of a clear and measurable learning objective is:
The participant will: "List two nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents used in the
treatment of rheumatoid arthritis".
An example of an unmeasurable objective is:
The participant will: "Increase his/her knowledge of anti-inflammatory agents
used in the treatment of arthritis."
"Increase knowledge" can not be directly demonstrated, therefore it is not a measurable
objective. The words “know” and “understand” are not measurable verbs.
When planning how to achieve the purpose of the class, ask yourself:
1. What do I want the participants to accomplish/learn?
2. How will the participants demonstrate that the desired information has been learned?
3. What verb (see samples listed below) will I use in the objective to indicate what the
participant will do to demonstrate information learned?
Use of an Action Verb
The verb should correspond with what opportunities are given for the participants to
demonstrate the newly learned information. For example, if your objective contains the verb
discuss, then there must be opportunities for the participant to discuss (one of your teaching
methods must include "discussion"). Following is a list of the six levels of cognitive learning
with some of their accompanying verbs which are used when writing learning objectives.
(to recall facts)
(to apply concepts/demonstrate skills)
(use information/make connections)
Use of an Action Verb for Affective/Attitude Categories
Here are affective or attitude categories with some verbs and examples:
Awareness, willingness to hear, selected attention. Listen to others with respect. Listen
for and remember the name of newly introduced people.
Responding to Phenomena:
Active participation on the part of the learners. Attends and reacts to a particular
phenomenon. Participates in class discussions. Gives a presentation. Questions new ideals.
The worth or value a person attaches to a particular object, phenomenon, or behavior :
Demonstrates belief, is sensitive towards
Organizes values into priorities by contrasting different values, resolving conflicts
between them, and creating a unique value system. The emphasis is on comparing,
relating, and synthesizing values.
Internalizing values (characterization):
Has a value system that controls behavior. The behavior is pervasive, consistent,
predictable, and most importantly, characteristic of the learner. Instructional objectives
are concerned with the student's general patterns of adjustment (personal, social,
emotional). discriminates, displays, influences, listens, modifies, performs, practices,
proposes, qualifies, questions, revises, serves, solves, verifies.
Use of an Action Verb for Psychomotor Categories
Here are some psychomotor (skill) categories and examples:
Observing and patterning behavior after someone else. Performance may be of low
quality. Example: Copying a work of art.
Being able to perform certain actions by following instructions and practicing. Example:
Creating work on one's own, after taking lessons, or reading about it.
Refining, becoming more exact. Few errors are apparent. Example: Working and
reworking something, so it will be "just right."
Coordinating a series of actions, achieving harmony and internal consistency. Example:
Producing a video that involves music, drama, color, sound, etc.
Having high level performance become natural, without needing to think much about it
Examples: Michael Jordan playing basketball, Nancy Lopez hitting a golf ball, etc.
Courtesy of Maine Nurses Association
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