When you are writing course- or module-level objectives or outcomes, remember to always be “SMART!” SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Specific: The objective should be specific to your course and the goals of the course. Avoid being vague and subjective.
- Measurable: The objective should contain criteria that helps an instructor measure a student’s progress towards the completion of the goal.
- Attainable: The objective should be realistic for the students within a given timeframe and for the level of the course. Objectives should reflect higher-order thinking skills when and where appropriate.
- Relevant: The objective should be explicitly linked to the goals and theme of the course and program. If possible, craft objectives that are workforce relevant for students.
- Time-bound: Objectives should be tied to a specific deadline that that fits within the timeframe of the course enrollment.
In this example of a SMART objective, the instructor has crafted an objective that utilizes the five different components. First, the outcome is “specific” as it addresses only one desired outcome, the ability to construct an annotated bibliography in APA format. The formatting listed here adds specificity to the outcome in order to clear confusion and subjectivity.
The outcome is also measurable because the outcome is easily quantifiable through criteria: “at least five identified resources.” An instructor measuring a students progress towards this objective can easily identify a threshold for success. The outcome is also realistic and attainable for students. This outcome asks students to “construct” something, a measurable verb found in Bloom’s Taxonomy which is suitable to the level of the course. The outcome is also relevant to the professional and personal goals of the course developer and program. And finally, the outcome is time-bound: “by the conclusion of the course.” The outcome as written has a clear timeframe for completion which adds additional detail for students.
Constructing an Objective
Utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive domains, you can construct a learning objective using a measurable action verb. Remember, these objectives should be clearly aligned with course activities and assessments.
|Can the Student...||...recall the content?||...explain concepts?||...use the content in a new way?||...distinguish between different parts?||...justify a position?||...formulate a new product or perspective?|
|Sample Action Verbs||
|Activities & Assessment Examples||M/C or T/F Quiz, Matching, Flash Cards, Labeling, Outlining, Note-taking||Summaries, Estimations, Explanations, Translations, Quizzes, Exams||Collaborative Presentation, Demos, Solve Equations||Discussion, Compare & Contrast Activity, Diagram, Predictions||Editing Exercise, Case Study, Debate||Marketing Plan, Health Assessment, ePortfolio, Coding Project|
|Sample Learning Objective||
By the conclusion of the module, the student will be able to label all parts of the heart.
|By the conclusion of the course, the student will be able to describe the initial marketing process for a start-up of less than 100 people.||By the conclusion of the course, a student will be able to employ up-to-date APA formatting on a research paper of at least 8 pages.||By the conclusion of the course, students will be able to analyze public-private partnerships in order to determine their appropriateness and likelihood of success and sustainability.||By the conclusion of the module, students will be able to estimate the parameters of an A-Ci curve using either R or Excel.||By the conclusion of the course, students will be able to construct a classroom management plan for a K-6 course.|