Creating effective learning objectives and measures

Dr. Barbara Wheeling
Coordinator for Institutional Assessment
Montana State University Billings
October 18, 2010
 The
learning objectives should clearly state
what the learner should be able to do.
 The assessment should measure if they can,
in fact, do that.
Patti Shank, "Online Teaching Fundamentals: To Plan Good
Instruction, Teach to the Test", Online Classroom, June,
2006, P. 4.
Learning Objectives have two parts: a verb
and a content area.
Keep statements short and focused.
Avoid verbs that are vague or cannot be
objectively assessed.
Learning objectives should be studentfocused.
 1.
Is it specific?
An objective is written too broadly if
It cannot be reasonably assessed with just one or two
It covers several different elements of the subject
matter from a course or semester
 2.
Examples, not measurable:
Is it observable and measurable?
“Students will understand how to divide two-digit
“Students will develop an appreciation of cultural
diversity in the workplace.”
Example, measurable:
“Students will correctly divide two-digit numbers.”
“Students will summarize in writing their feelings
about cultural diversity in the workplace.”
Avoid phrases such as,
“have an understanding”, “have an appreciation for”,
“be knowledgeable about”
Be careful of modifiers such as,
“will effectively”, “can accurately”, “should
These can make measurement impossible
 3.
Is it actually a teaching outcome?
Avoid phrases such as:
“will be taught”, “will learn how to”, “will be
evaluated on”
 4.
Does the objective include action verbs?
Overt behavior that can be observed and
Examples: compile, create, plan, revise, analyze,
design, select, utilize, apply, prepare, use,
compute, discuss, explain, predict, assess,
compare, rate, critique.
 The
taxonomy provides a useful structure in
which to develop learning objectives.
Primarily useful for deciding on action verbs
Assurance of Learning Blackboard site: The Assurance of
Learning Initiative
 Step
1: What should students be able to do?
These are the objectives.
 Step
2: What indicates students have met the
These are authentic tasks.
 Step
3: What does good performance on the
task look like?
These are the criteria to assess.
 Step
4: How well did the students perform?
Use a rubric with the criteria or
Compile a score for each objective
 Step
5: How well should most students
The minimum level at which you would want
students to perform is a benchmark.
 Step
6: What do students need to improve
Information from the rubric will provide
feedback and ideas for improving instruction.