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How to formulate learning objectives to achieve maximum impact

Think back to your school days. Were you aware of lesson plans or lesson goals? Probably not. If you are a parent, you can be involved in your children’s school. You probably asked his teacher about his classroom plans. Now think about the last time you attended a meeting. You most likely went straight to the agenda so you knew what to expect and could plan accordingly. When you travel, work around timetables and flight schedules. Therefore, when it comes to adult education, a structured approach is essential. It sets learning expectations and prepares your online learners. Here are 6 top tips for formulating learning goals to get the maximum impact.

Top tips for formulating specific training goals

1. Distinguish goals from learning goals

Educational objectives are the pillars on which your eLearning course is built. They are the “target posts” that you and your online learners aim for if they want to score. Learning objectives are the steps that will take you to achieve your goals. The goals are broad, such as B. “Proof of Compliance with New Industry Regulations”. Learning objectives are more detailed, achievable and measurable, for example “Pass a conformity test and get certification”.

The function of a goal is to set expectations for online learners. It tells them “why” they are taking the eLearning course and motivates them to follow it. Learning objectives explain exactly how this feat is achieved. It breaks down the target into “bullet points” that you can tick on the way. This means that you have to design learning goals in the form of individual eLearning activities and tasks. They need to be clear, actionable, and measurable. Use straightforward, simple language instead of abstractions.

2. Start with urgent questions

Answer the question, “When I complete this eLearning course, I will know how to …” by and large. This gives you an umbrella to work under when formulating learning objectives. Once you have the overall concept, you can break down “how” these are achieved. Specificity is crucial. Your learning objectives must be as clear as – for example:

  • Identify five key areas of non-compliance by organizations.
  • Talk to a waiter, order from a restaurant, or ask for directions in the language you’re learning.
  • Learn how to use the new software to post customer orders.

You may remember from your grammar class that verbs are “words to do”. However, some verbs are more direct and can be referred to as “action verbs”. These are great options when writing your learning objectives. You’ll want to use words like mention, list, identify, explain, classify, and so on. Why exactly these verbs? Because they are measurable and your learning goals have to be quantifiable.

3. Follow Bloom’s example

The revised Bloom taxonomy is one of the most helpful tools for setting learning objectives. It divides the learning process into six categories: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating. The taxonomy goes even further, listing more than a dozen matching verbs for each category. You can literally combine them to achieve workable learning goals. The taxonomy is easy to use. It is often presented as a chart, graph, table, or color-coded wheel. Avoid cognitive verbs like understand, appreciate, learn, or become familiar with them. Yes, you will do all of this in the course of your… course. But these are not verbs that can be subjectively assessed. You cannot prove that you “understand” a concept. But you can clearly “demonstrate” the same concept, making the latter a better learning goal. Cognitive verbs are more suitable for goals / objectives than for the formulation of learning objectives.

4. Take a practical approach

Online training is one of the most realistic forms of learning. You are literally learning things that you will use in your daily work. Focus on this as you write your learning objectives. Yes, you want to increase the reputation of your online learners and improve their careers. These are general goals. But what exactly should they learn? Do you need to know how to drive a van through the snow? Or how can you reassure a customer asking for a refund? Maybe you need to be able to negotiate to get a discount from big suppliers? These are learning goals, and that’s how you should phrase them.

5. Make it measurable

Learning objectives are only useful to your eLearning developers, LMS administrators, and online learners if they can actually track progress and performance. So they have to be measurable and based on clear criteria. For example, how do you determine if online learners can view a particular skill? What is your definition of “competent” when it comes to mastering tasks? Measurable learning goals also give online learners the opportunity to identify weaknesses and correct them with the resources available. For example, they have tackled the communication skills aspect of the learning objective. However, you still need to work on your negotiation skills to achieve the primary learning objective.

6. Know your audience’s vocabulary

Simply formulated learning objectives are the best choice. Online learners shouldn’t have to break out the dictionary to decipher the statement. Because of this, you need to know their background, level of experience, and vocabulary in order to make your learning objective effective. Avoid technical jargon that you may not understand or complicated terms that leave room for ambiguity. For example, objective statements with double negatives or multiple facets. If it’s more complicated, try breaking it down into separate learning objectives so that they can focus on one element at a time.


Writing “good” learning objectives is essential to the success of your eLearning course. Clearly formulated learning objectives make it easier for you and your online learners to test the effectiveness of their eLearning. It also helps with the marketing of the eLearning course because buyers can see at a glance whether your eLearning content fits. First, differentiate your goals with your learning goals. Formulate the goals / objectives and then break them down into individual learning objectives.

Do adults learn the same way as their younger colleagues or do they need their own approach to absorbing the information? Do you know what your adult learners need to achieve their goals and overcome everyday challenges? Download our free eBook Designing Adult Learner E-Learning Courses: The Complete Guide to Learn About Adult Learner Characteristics, the Barriers They Must Overcome, Ways to Engage and Motivate Busy Adult Learners, and Some Amazing Facts and Statistics to learn about the adult education you need to know as an eLearning professional.


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