Writing Module-Based Learning Objectives
A Best Practicein Desgning Effective Online Courses
Include Learning Objectives at the Start of Each Module
Why is it important to write learning objectives for each module in your online course?
- Module objectives help you to think through and clearly delineate what it is you want students to learn in each module. As with any design project, it is important, when designing a course, to start with a clear idea of the course’s goals and the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Module-based objectives are useful to students because they can serve as a kind of checklist that spells out what they should know and be able to do after completing each part of the course.
- These objectives are also useful from a curricular and programmatic perspective (and for program assessment) because they map out specifically how your course will meet the programmatic learning goals it is intended to fulfill.
Where to start
Once you have a clearly established set of course goals, and have started sketching out a basic calendar for your course (how many weeks is the course, how many modules will you include? Which topics do you need/want to cover?) then you can start to think about objectives for each module.
Use the SMART criteria to write objectives that are:
Specific: Describe precisely what the learner should be able to do.
Measurable: Shoot for learning that can be observed or measured.
Action-oriented: Use action verbs to show behavior change or acquisition.
Realistic: Have reasonable expectations given the conditions for instruction.
Time-based: Specify a time frame for the learning i.e. “After successfully completing this module…”
Examples of SMART objectives from a variety of disciplines:
- After successfully completing this module, (time-based) you should be able to summarize (action oriented) a current EM or HS bill in congress (specific), describe (action-oriented) its purpose and the major things that will be accomplished if it passes. (measurable, realistic)
- After successfully completing this module (time-based), you should be able to compare (action-oriented) values and approaches in Public Health and Social Work practice. (specific, measurable, realistic)
- After successful completion of this module (time-based), you should be able to evaluate (action-oriented) the impact of recent specific economic, social and political issues on the delivery of holistic health care. (specific, measurable, realistic)
In most cases, you should try not to have more than 3-4 objectives for each module–some modules may have fewer than 4.
Below is a list of action verbs that relate to different types of cognitive activity and behaviors, based on Bloom’s taxonomy, as it has been revised to reflect more current approaches. (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001).
Anderson, L. W. and Krathwohl, D. R., et al (Eds..) (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group)