Linking Outcomes to Objectives

Objectives Revisited

A learning objective is a statement that identifies knowledge, skills, or values that will improve the participants' practice. They identify what a learner should know, be able to do, or value. Learning objectives are behavioral and describe how the participant can achieve a specific objective. Within the backward design process, learning objectives serve as a roadmap for assessing the educational activity. In general, your learning objectives should:

  • be learner-oriented
  • focus on cognitive processes
  • use action verbs
  • be measurable where possible
  • will specify a behavior, condition, and a criterion where possible

For example:

After completion of this unit you will be able to write a learning objective (behavior) that is action-oriented and focused on the learner’s cognitive processes (conditions) and can be measured by an appropriate assessment (criterion)

Objectives should focus on desired behaviors. Although knowledge acquisition is a necessary precursor to practice, objectives should, when possible, focus on procedural application of knowledge (competence), implementation (performance), or measures of patient outcomes. Some additional examples:

Competence-oriented objective: Differentiate (behavior) the clinical presentations of polymyositis and dermatomyotisis in yy% of patients with interstitial lung disease

Performance-oriented objective: Diagnose arrhythmias (behavior) in vulnerable population groups based on patient/family history, physical exam, and electrocardiogram (conditions) in a minimum of xx% of cases (criterion).

Additional Resources: