Begin Here: Creating Effective Learning Objectives

Concurrent Session 1 & 2 (combined)

Watch This Session

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will address issues that faculty and learners struggle with in writing well-formed learning objectives. Learning Objectives are a key element in the Quality Matters rubric, forming the basis for determinations of alignment of learning elements. Yet in my experience as a faculty member and instructional designer few instructors have formal training in organizing a course, especially when it comes to stating the learning objectives of the course in observable and measurable terms. Learners also do not approach a learning task with clear objectives and aligned activities in mind. This workshop is designed to provide that training by introducing the parts of a learning objective, how learning objectives relate at different levels, and how learning objectives map out in cognitive and knowledge dimensions.

Presenters

Dr. John A Hollenbeck has served as Senior Instructional Design Consultant at the University of Wisconsin Colleges Online for over 5 years. He enjoys working with faculty to design and create student-centered classes online classes primarily in the Humanities. John presents nationally on the use of learning objectives in aligning with course structures. He also is a Quality Matters Master Peer Reviewer and works with faculty to develop standards of excellence for online courses. John has worked in online learning since 1994 when he helped create the first online course offered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research agenda explores independent learning as made possible by new media technologies. A constant priority in his research has been supporting the access mission of the UW Colleges in making higher education effective for all learning needs. Dr. Hollenbeck has held faculty positions at San Francisco State University, Old Dominion University and James Madison University, all of which included the practice of online learning. Away from work, John is an avid reader and enjoys making and listening to music.

Extended Abstract

This session will address the elements involved in writing well-formed learning objectives. Learning Objectives are a key element in organizing a learning experience as they form the basis for determining the selection and alignment of learning elements in a course using observable and measurable language. This workshop is designed to introduce the three parts of a learning objective, how learning objectives relate at different levels of learning, and how learning objectives map out in cognitive and knowledge dimensions. The utility of this work is explored from both the learner and instructional perspective, applying to self-directed, independent learning as well as more traditional forms of teaching. Throughout this interactive session attendees will follow a step-by-step process to complete at least one quality learning objective by the end of the course using provided handouts and guided discussion.

Schedule:

  • 10 Minute introduction of concepts in learning objectives, alignment and using them as a structure for curriculum planning.
  • 10 Minute interactive talk with audience participation to prompts regarding measurable verbs, with introduction to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy
  • 10 Minute activity using provided handout listing measurable verbs in own discipline, with peer evaluation with others nearby.
  • 5 Minute interactive  talk with audience participation defining performance conditions.
  • 10 Minute activity using provided handout relating conditions to previously generated verbs
  • 5 Minute interactive talk with audience participation defining performance criteria and introducing alignment
  • 10 Minute activity using provided handout relating criteria  to previously generated verb/conditions
  • 10 Minutes writing a performance learning objective on provided handout and sharing with peers.
  • 10 Minute introduction of Anderson and Krathwohl’s Knowledge Dimensions as they relate to Learning Objectives
  • 5 Minutes mapping written learning objectives to knowledge dimension
  • 5 Minutes closing remarks and discussion

Faculty, new instructional designers, and independent learners will benefit from a complete explanation of the rationale and intent of learning objectives, and how to create them. They will then experience how learning objects interact at all levels of an educational institution to form a structure for the curriculum. Finally, they will understand how clear learning objectives create a transparent learning environment for students. My work is informed by Anderson and Krathwohl’s 2001 publication “A Taxonomy for Learning , Teaching and Assessing,” which revises and expands on Benjamin Bloom’s 1956 Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain and provides a complete guide to using learning objectives in the systematic planning of learning environments.

Quality learning objectives are vital in the transition to 21st century learning environments. The traditional classroom is based upon an individual professor’s expertise, resulting in a curriculum that is idiosyncratic and not aligned. Now we have a growing need for learning, and higher education must be able to scale its offering in a cost-effective manner. Learning objectives provide a structure for that scalability by making external the structure of learning found in a professor’s knowledge. It also helps structure the learner’s efforts when designing their own learning programs.