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What learning objectives emphasize

Learning objectives emphasize observed activity

The only way you can determine whether or not a student has learned something is to observe some kind of behavior that indicates learning has taken place. This behavior may range from correctly answering multiple-choice questions to requiring that the student actually demonstrate a skill.

Example

Given a thesis statement in class, the student will write 3 topic sentences for paragraph development of the given statement.
            Instead of…
The student will be able to write appropriate topic sentences for paragraph development of a thesis statement.

Example

Given 4 theorems that he/she has never seen, the student will formulate a proof for each theorem by drawing on elements from previous sources and will rate them together to form a pattern proof—with 80% accuracy.
            Instead of…
The student will understand the concept of the Derivative.

Learning objectives emphasize student activity

Instructors sometimes state objectives in terms of their activities. However, learning objectives focus exclusively on student behaviors, not on the behaviors of the instructor.

Example

Given the necessary materials, the student will glue a black and white photo clipping from a magazine onto a 6x9” paper.  The student will extend the black, white, and gray design of the photo to cover the area of the paper with a relevant design—in class.
            Instead of…
The student will be able to demonstrate understanding of color theory.

Example

The student will listen to several letters read from the editorial page of a newspaper or magazine.  He/she will participate in a discussion about the type of logic employed, the effectiveness of the evidence, and the validity of the argument.
            Instead of…
The student will understand the processes of inductive and deductive reasoning.

Learning objectives emphasize student outcomes

Instructors often state objectives in terms of process or procedure while learning objectives refer to the end results of instruction. A good learning objective states what a student will know or be able to do at the end of instruction.

Example

Given a list of chemical compounds, the student will select 1 that is found at each step in the process of respiration and 1 that is found at each step in the process of photosynthesis.
            Instead of…
The student will understand the fundamentals of respiration.

Example

In class, the student will assign to each of 10 given statements 1 of the following terms:  business ethics, ethics and the law, professional standards in business, and conflicts of interest; 70% accuracy.
            Instead of …
The student will examine the ethical conduct of American business.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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