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How to Write a Clear and Measurable Learning Objective

  1. digital-credentialing-logo.jpgIdentify the noun, or thing you want students to learn.
    • Example: seven steps of the research process
  2. Identify the level of knowledge you want. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of learning. It is important to choose the appropriate level of learning, because this directly influences the type of assessment you choose to measure your students’ learning.
    • Example: to know the seven steps of the research process (comprehension level)
  3. Select a verb that is observable to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning.
    • Example: Describe these steps
  4. Add additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be observable to add context for the student.
    • Describe the seven steps of the research process when writing a paper.

Here are some examples of learning objectives and how they can be written better:

  • Original version: Understand the American criminal justice system.
  • Revised version: Describe the history of the American criminal justice system.

Understand is not a measurable verb; however, the intent of the instructor was to have the students be able to describe, which is measurable.

  • Original version: Describe and create a social media plan for your organization.
  • Revised version: Create a social media plan for your organization.

Describe and create are two different levels of learning, and it’s strongly suggested that you avoid having more than one action verb. Create is a higher level of learning than describe, therefore it can be assumed that you will be able to describe the process prior to applying it.

  • Original version: Understand elements of editing.
  • Revised version: Identify elements of editing, including composition, setting and lighting.

Understand is not a measurable verb, and it is too broad.

Adapted from Smith, T. (2012) Writing Measurable Learning Objectives. Arizona State University