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Learning Objective Essay

* A learning objective answers the question: What is it that your students should be able to do at the end of the class session and course that they could not do before? * A learning objective makes clear the intended learning outcome rather than what form the instruction will take. * Learning objectives focus on student performance. Action verbs that are specific, such as list, describes, report, compare, demonstrate, and analyze, should state the behaviors students will be expected to perform. Well-written learning objectives can give students precise statements of what is expected of them and provide guidelines for assessing student progress. Our goal for students is learning and if students don’t know what they should be able to do at the end of class then it will be difficult for them to reach that goal. Clearly defined objectives form the foundation for selecting appropriate content, learning activities, and assessment measures. If objectives of the course are not clearly understood by both instructor and students, if the learning activities do not relate to the objectives and the content that you think is important, then your methods of assessment, which are supposed to indicate to both learner and instructor how effective the learning and teaching process has been, will be at best misleading, and, at worst, irrelevant or unfair. Learning objectives

Specific statements describing what you and your students intend to achieve as a result of learning that occurs both in class and outside of class. They can be categorized in the following way: 1. Cognitive objectives emphasize knowing, conceptualizing, comprehending, applying, synthesizing, and evaluating. These objectives deal with students’ knowledge of the subject matter, and how students demonstrate this knowledge. 2. Psychomotor objectives involve the physical skills and dexterity related to the instruction. Successful instruction involves teaching new skills or coordination of old ones Attitudinal objectives

Specific statements about attitudes, values and emotions, which students will have as a result of taking part in class activities. What learning objectives emphasize
Learning objectives emphasize observed activity, student activity and student outcomes.
Advantages of using learning objectives
Writing and using learning objectives has numerous advantages.

Writing learning objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of the cognitive domain, or thinking skills, can be helpful in constructing course learning objectives. Bloom and colleagues found that over 95% of exam questions required students to activate low-level thinking skills such as recall (1956). In addition, research has shown that students remember more content when they have learned a topic through higher thinking skills such as application or evaluation. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide, you can create learning objectives and exam questions that activate and assess different, as well as higher, levels of student thinking.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchy of six cognitive skills arranged from less to more complex.

Knowledge

Recognizes students’ ability to use rote memorization and recall certain facts. Action verbs to help write objectives or exam questions for this domain: cite, define, identify, label, list, match, name, recognize, reproduce, select, state.

Example

Learning objectives| Exam questions|

The students will recall the four major food groups without error.| Name the four major food groups.| The students will list at least three characteristics peculiar to the Cubist movement.| List three characteristics that are unique to the Cubist movement.| The students will be able to define gram-positive bacteria.| Define gram-positive bacteria.| Comprehension

Involves students’ ability to read course content, understand and interpret important information and put other’s ideas into their own words. Action verbs to help write objectives or exam questions for this domain: classify, convert, describe, distinguish between, explain, extend, give examples, illustrate, interpret, paraphrase, summarize, translate.

Example

Learning objectives| Exam questions|

The students will summarize the main events of a story in grammatically correct English.| Using grammatically correct English, please summarize the main events – in three or four sentences – from the news story given below.| The students will describe in prose what is shown in graph form.| Given a graph of production trends in automobiles, describe what the graph represents in a memo to your boss.| From a “story-problem” description, students will convert the story to a mathematical manipulation needed to solve the problem.| A researcher wonders whether attending a private high school leads to higher or lower performance on an exam of social skills. A random sample of 100 students from a private school produces a mean score of 71.30 on the exam, and the national mean score for students from public schools is 75.62 (s x = 29.0). Convert the information in this word problem into a mathematical representation that will enable you to solve the problem.|

Application

Students take new concepts and apply them to another situation. Action verbs to help write objectives or exam questions for this domain: apply, arrange, compute, construct, demonstrate, discover, modify, operate,predict, prepare, produce, relate, show, solve, use.

Example

Learning objectives| Exam questions|

The students will multiply ractions in class with 90 percent accuracy.| Solve for the ten following fraction multiplication problems. Please make sure to show all your work.| The students will apply previously learned information about socialism to reach an answer.| According to our definition of socialism, which of the following nations would be considered to be socialist?| The students will demonstrate the principle of reinforcement to classroom interactions.| In a teaching simulation with your peers role-playing 6th grade students, demonstrate the principle of reinforcement in classroom interactions and prepare a ½ page description of what happened during the simulation that validated the principle.|

Analysis

Students have the ability to take new information and break it down into parts to differentiate between them. Action verbs to help write objectives or exam questions for this domain: analyze, associate, determine, diagram, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, estimate, infer, order, outline, point out, separate, subdivide. Example

Learning objectives| Exam questions|

The students will read a presidential debate and point out the passages that attack a political opponent personally rather than the opponent’s political programs.| From the short presidential debate transcribed below: Differentiate the passages that attacked a political opponent personally, and those that attacked an opponent’s political programs.| The students will point out the positive and negative points presented in an argument for the abolition of guns.| From the argument given below, analyze the positive and negative points presented concerning the abolition of guns and write a brief (2-3 page) narrative of your analysis.| Students will discriminate among a list of possible steps to determine which one(s) would lead to increased reliability for a test.| Determine which of the following steps would most likely lead to an increase in the reliability estimate for a test: * Increasing the number of persons tested from 500 to 1,000. * Selecting items so that half were very difficult and half very easy * Increasing the length of the test with more of the same kinds of items * Increasing the homogeneity of the group of subjects tested.|

Synthesis

Students are able to take various pieces of information and form a whole creating a pattern where one did not previously exist. Action verbs to help write objectives or exam questions for this domain: combine, compile, compose, construct, create, design, develop, devise, formulate, integrate, modify, organize, plan, propose, rearrange, reorganize, revise, rewrite, tell, write.

Example

Learning objectives| Exam questions|

The students will write a different but plausible ending to a short story.| Develop one plausible ending for all three short stories below.| After studying the current economic policies of the United States, student groups will design their own goals for fiscal and monetary policies.| Working in your groups and considering the current economic policies of the US that we have been studying, develop your goals for employment, price levels, and rate of real economic growth for the next three years. Write these goals on the newsprint and be ready to discuss why your goals are feasible.| The students will design a series of chemical operations to separate quantitatively the elements in a solution.| In the lab, you will be given a solution to analyze to see what elements make up the solution. Then design a series of chemical operations to separate quantitatively the elements in the solution.|

Evaluation

Involves students’ ability to look at someone else’s ideas or principles and see the worth of the work and the value of the conclusions. Action verbs to help write objectives or exam questions for this domain: appraise, assess, compare, conclude, contrast, criticize, discriminate, evaluate, judge, justify, support, weigh.

Example

Learning objectives| Exam questions|

The students will use the principles of socialism to evaluate the US economic system.| Using the basic principles of socialism discussed in this course, evaluate the US economic system by providing key arguments to support your judgment.| Given any research study, evaluate the appropriateness of the conclusions reached based on the data presented.| For years, misinformation about negative effects of aspartame has proliferated on the internet. The committee evaluated peer-reviewed research from the scientific literature on this topic and concluded: “Aspartame consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general population”. —

Given the data we’ve looked at on this topic, evaluate how appropriate this conclusion is and defend your answer.| The students will compare two pieces of sculpture, giving reasons for their positive evaluation of one over the other.| Two pieces of sculpture from different eras and artists are displayed. Study these two pieces, use the compare-contrast method to determine which piece you prefer and write a 2-3 page report that describes your thinking process as you studied these pieces. Utilize the skills you have learned as we have studied various pieces of sculpture over the past two weeks.|

Advantages of using learning objectives

The writing of learning objectives focuses attention away from content and onto the students. This re-focusing often produces revisions in teaching methods. 1. Managing instruction: Objectives may be used by instructors and students to sort and direct learners and learning activities. They may be used for systematic pre-testing, allowing into the course students who demonstrate the required pre-requisite behaviors, redirecting to remedial work those who lack the pre-requisites, skipping ahead those who already have acquired the behaviors that the unit is designed to teach. 2.

3. Managing learning: Whereas management of instruction implies that the control rests with the instructor, management of learning suggests a more active role by the student. Students can use objectives to guide their learning efforts — choosing appropriate materials, reading selectively, etc. Objectives can also be used for self-evaluation which may direct the student’s efforts (e.g., skipping ahead or reviewing). When students are involved in determining objectives they develop an awareness of the difficulties in defining what it is they want to learn and of choosing from among equally attractive options. 4. Planning instruction: Once you have developed learning objectives for a course you can more rationally sequence instruction, allot time to topics, assemble materials, prepare outlines and booklists, etc.

Learning objectives can also be used as a guide to teaching, as when you plan different instructional methods for presenting various types of content based on the desired learning outcomes (e.g., small-group editing of reports to give students experience in evaluating content logic and correct usage). A re-examination of course content may result from a look at the learning objectives for the course. After comparing previous examinations with your newly developed learning objectives, you may discover that you have been testing materials which are illustrative, but which are not really essential to the students’ mastery of the content/concepts. 5. Enhancing learning: If the student has a set of learning objectives which provide information about the content to be learned and the way in which he/she will have to demonstrate adequate knowledge, that student can make more appropriate choices about study methods and content emphasis.

6. Facilitating evaluation: Learning objectives can facilitate various evaluation activities, evaluating students, evaluating instruction, evaluating the curriculum. They can form the basis for grading or for determining levels of competence in a mastery learning system. They can also be used to demonstrate effective teaching by matching student learning, as measured by exams, etc., to the desired outcomes. 7. Aiding in communication with others: There is a need to communicate learning objectives to others: between instructor and student, with TAs, with other instructors. For example, exchanging learning objectives within departments is the most specific way to communicate to one’s colleagues what you really cover in your course. An objectives exchange might reduce redundancy in the curriculum.

8. Designing or redesigning curriculum: If you intend to improve instruction in a particular course, you usually begin with the learning objectives for that course and program outcomes for the program and work backwards. * Sets of learning objectives for one course may be compared with the expected entry behaviors for the next course in the sequence. The two should interlock; where they do not, curriculum adjustments can be made. * Study of the existing curriculum can draw attention to redundancy and omissions that can lead to curriculum revision.

9. Producing new insights: The process of clarifying objectives may produce major changes in those who engage in the effort. For example, instructors who spend time developing learning objectives are said to acquire increased understanding about what is a feasible goal. When more general goals are explicitly identified, many specific sub-goals emerge. Since it may not be possible to reach all the sub-goals, a hierarchy or “trade-off system” of goals must be produced.


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