In this article, I’ll show you how to write learning objectives for employee training.
Learning objectives are one of the most important parts of an employee training program. Without learning objectives, you won’t be able to measure the effectiveness of your training program, and it’s very likely that your training will be a waste of time and money for your organization.
## What are learning objectives?
A learning objective is a statement of what the learner is expected to know, understand, or do after completing the training. Learning objectives are also referred to as learning outcomes, learning goals, learning objectives or learning outcomes.
Learning outcomes are a subset of learning objectives. A learning outcome is a single piece of information that a learner should know or understand after completing a training. For example, a learning outcome could be:
“After completing this training, learners will know how to use Microsoft Word.”
The learning outcome in this example is “how to use Word”. The learning outcome tells us what we expect learners to know after they’ve completed the training, but it does not tell us how we expect them to know that information. That is the job of the learning objective.
## How to write a learning objective
To write a good learning objective, you need to know what you want your learner to know and understand after they complete your training. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you write your learning objectives:
1. Write learning objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
2. Make sure that the learning objectives are written in the active voice. This means that the subject of the sentence is the person doing the action, not the object of the action. For instance, instead of saying “The learner will learn how to…”, you should say “I will teach learners how to….”
3. If you’re going to use an example, make sure that it is relevant to the training that you are teaching. If the example is not relevant to your training, it will not help your learners remember the information that you want them to learn.
4. If your training is going to have more than one section, write a separate learning objective for each section. This will make it easier for your learners to remember what they learned in each section of the training and what they need to do to move on to the next section. For more information on how to divide your training into multiple sections, check out this article: How to Divide Your Training Into Multiple Sections.
5. Write your learning objective in the present tense, not in the past tense. This is because learning is a process, not an event, so you want to focus on what learners will be doing in the future, not what they have already done. For an example of this, see the difference between these two sentences: “Learners will learn to use Excel” and “Excel will be used by learners to…
6. If possible, avoid using the word “will” in learning objectives because it is too vague. Instead, use specific verbs such as “learn” or “understand” to describe what your learners will do after they have completed your training:
7. You can also use the verb “should” instead of “must” if you want learners to have a choice about whether or not they want to learn the information you are going to teach them. For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, see this blog post: How To Write A Learning Objective That Tells The Learner What To Do, Not What To Know.
8. Use the words and phrases that your learners are likely to use when they talk about the training they have just completed. You want to make it easy for them to talk about your training in their own words. For this reason, it is a good idea to use learner-friendly language when you are writing your training objectives. For examples of this type of language.
9. Use a question mark at the end of each learning objective to indicate that there is more information that is not included in the objective. This question mark is also known as a “filler word” because it tells the reader that more information is available if they are interested in learning more about the topic that is being discussed in the training objective. For information on using filler words in your writing, see my article on this topic: The Power of Filler Words in Writing
10. Use “and” as much as possible to connect learning objectives to each other. This helps your readers understand the relationship between the objectives that you have written, and makes the objectives easier to remember. For additional information on the use of ‘and’ in writing, check this article out: The 10 Most Common Writing Errors and How to Avoid Them
11. Avoid using “to” at the beginning of the objective because it makes it sound as if you are telling learners what they should do, rather than telling them what they will do. Instead of saying, “To learn more about Microsoft Excel,” you should write “Learn more about Excel.“
12. Avoid making learning objectives too long. Your learning objectives should not be more than two or three sentences long. Longer learning objectives make it harder for learners to understand what they are supposed to learn, and they also make it more difficult for your readers to find the information they are looking for in your content.
Writing effective learning objectives is an important part of creating effective e-learning content, so it is worth spending some time learning how to write them. Once you have a good understanding of the basics of writing learning objectives, you will be able to write more effective objectives for your own training content, as well as for the training content that you create for other people.