The first time I taught at the college level, I received a call to teach a course exactly five days before it began. I have now taught the same class seven times and each time I teach it, the objectives of the course change. Sometimes these differences have been dramatic, while other times I make a few minor changes to the wording.
Learning objectives are a crucial part of ongoing improvement to my course curriculum and teaching methodology. They steer the direction of a course and help gauge our progress throughout the semester.
What is Important to Learn?
Learning objectives help us to ask, ‘What is most important for students to learn in this class and how will I know when the learning has occurred?’ While there are many definitions used in clarifying learning objectives, the one I have found most useful comes from an expert in the corporate training world.
Mager (1997) defines a learning objective as (p 3):
… a collection of words and/or pictures & diagrams intended to let others know what you intend for your students to achieve.
- It is related to intended outcomes, rather than the process for achieving those outcomes
- It is specific and measurable, rather than broad and intangible Continue Reading…