Developing Learning Objectives

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When developing training materials, the critical element is the learning objective. The learning objective defines the outcome or the result of the training or lesson. If you were to think of a course as a bicycle wheel. You have components of it: the tire, the rim, the spokes, and the shaft. All must work together for the wheel to turn. However, everything is centered around the shaft of the wheel. In this analogy, the shaft is the learning objective. No matter how well the other parts work, if the shaft doesn't work then the wheel is ineffective. Much like the bicycle shaft, the learning objective is critical and imperative to the rest of the training. Understanding this, we look at how to develop a learning objective.


Types of Learning Objectives[edit]

There are two primary types of learning objectives we will be working with:

  • Terminal Objective: The outcome or the final product. What should the student "look like" when the training is complete? What should they be able to?
  • Enabling Objective: Defines the steps to accomplishing the terminal objective. How is the terminal objective going to be accomplished?

Components and Developing a Learning Objective[edit]

Working on the assumption that we are utilizing the Instructional Systems Design model for course development, creating learning objectives does not have to be a complex process. While there are many models to follow, and one should look for one that best suits their style, the simplest to work with is the C-B-S model. The C-B-S model follows the format:

  • (C)Condition- Under what circumstances or conditions should the student perform the task.
  • (B)Behavior- Specifically explains what task the student should be able to do.
  • (S)Standard- To what level of proficiency should the student perform the task.


Utilizing an example from the Fire Officer IV course:

Terminal Objective: Given appropriate community demographic data, appraise the department's human resource demographics to determine if the recruitment, selection, and placement of human resources is effective and consistent with law and current best practices.


Our objective is sectioned as follows:

  • Condition: Given appropriate community demographic data...
  • Behavior: ...appraise the department's human resource demographics...
  • Standard: ...to determine if the recruitment, selection, and placement of human resources is effective and consistent with law and current best practices.

Conclusions[edit]

Developing learning objectives does not have to be complex nor a complicated process. However, consistency and comprehension is important.