©Teacher & Educational Development, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, 2005
What is a learning objective?
A learning objective is an outcome statement that captures specifically what knowledge, skills, attitudes
learners should be able to exhibit following instruction. A common misapplication of objectives is for the
teacher/presenter to state what he/she is going to do (e.g., “My plan this morning is to talk about…”), rather
than what the student is expected to be able to do (e.g., “After this session, you should be able to…”).
Why have learning objectives?
Creating clear learning objectives during the planning process of a unit/week/individual session serves the
Helps unit planners integrate across a day/week/unit of learning
Serves to connect content and assessment around learning
Guides selection of teaching/learning activities that will best achieve objectives
Gives learners a clear picture of what to expect and what’s expected of them
Forms the basis for evaluating teacher, learner, and curriculum effectiveness
What are the key components of a learning objective?
Learning objectives should be “SMART”
Attainable for target audience within scheduled time and specified conditions
Relevant and results-oriented
Targeted to the learner and to the desired level of learning
How do I create a useful learning objective?
To create specific, measurable/observable, and results-oriented objectives:
It’s helpful to finish the sentence, “After this unit/week/individual session, you should be able to…”
Start with an observable action word that captures what the learner should be able to do (see
examples in Table 1 of Attachment A-Fink’s and B-Bloom’s).
Avoid ill-defined terms that are open to variable interpretation (e.g., understand, learn, grasp); use
instead terms that describe directly observable behaviors. (Even though some elements of Fink’s
Taxonomy, such as the human dimension, caring, and learning to