Learning objectives are the clearly defined outcomes you hope to achieve with your organization’s user education program. Typically, learning objectives refer to the outcomes you want to help your learners accomplish. Like lesson plan objectives, learning objectives outline the skills, knowledge and mindsets you want your learners to understand and exhibit at the end of the learning process.
Learning objectives can be broad or narrow in scope. Some learning objectives may apply to many or all of your learners. For example, a basic product demo could apply to all your customers and employees simultaneously because both groups need a thorough understanding of your product to succeed.
Learning objectives for a product demo at a SaaS business might include the ability to navigate to the different parts of the software quickly and effectively. This is an objective that has a very wide audience.
Narrower learning objectives apply to one specific group of users, like gig workers, sales reps or channel partners. These learning objectives usually deal with a specific skill or subject that’s relevant only to one kind of user. A few examples of courses with narrow learning objectives are courses about negotiation tactics for sales reps and de-escalation training for gig workers.
Let’s dig a little deeper into learning objectives, how you can write them effectively and what they look like in action.
Learning objectives can be categorized in three broad groups. These groups are not learning objectives but rather types of learning objectives. Before you can fully understand the importance of learning objectives, you have to understand how they’re generally grouped into three main branches.
Cognitive learning objectives are learning objectives that focus on information the learner needs to know. A cognitive learning objective expects a learner to retain information and be able to recall or reproduce it after it’s been presented to the learner (via text, a video, a podcast or any other medium). The information often relates to identifying and solving a particular problem or understanding a particular procedure or method. Cognitive learning objectives can also extend to combining information and developing original ideas based on the presented materials.
Psychomotor learning objectives deal with the control of body movement. A training course or other learning environment that focuses on developing certain motor skills would have psychomotor learning objectives. Psychomotor learning objectives aren’t very common in the context of user education for business. They’re more commonly applied in classrooms where young students are learning fundamental skills like writing, in athletic disciplines like sports or dance, in musical instrument lessons or as a component of physical therapy (to name just a few examples). However, there are some skills in the business world that can be improved with psychomotor learning objectives, like typing speed or proficiency with physical tools.
Attitude learning objectives are sometimes called affective learning objectives and relate to how the learner feels about a particular subject. These learning objectives are typically a bit more abstract than cognitive or psychomotor objectives. They include goals like achieving certain degrees of acceptance or rejection and influencing perspectives of certain ideas or situations. For example, an attitude learning objective at a business might involve employees learning the right tone to use when they interact with customers.
Writing effective learning objectives and learning outcomes for your user education courses is not easy. However, nearly anyone can learn to write learning objectives by following some simple steps that have been developed over the years.
Some key questions to keep in mind to guide your learning objectives:
There are five main steps you can use to help you plan learning objectives for your user education courses:
The first step is to decide which category of learning objective your course is targeting: cognitive, psychomotor or attitude. Start by asking yourself what kind of change you want to see in your learners after they finish the course and consider which category that change falls within.
Next, you can use the category you’ve chosen to narrow in on a specific action verb around which to frame your learning objective. For example, a cognitive learning objective would probably use a verb like define, describe, explain, identify, list or recognize. The verb needs to be as specific as possible so it’s as measurable as possible.
The third step is to write your objective! Use your broad category and your action verb to craft a goal for your learners that reflects what you want them to be able to achieve after taking the course.
After you’ve written your learning objective, you should review it to make sure it includes everything a learning objective needs:
Finally, you should keep writing more learning objectives. Every learning experience you offer needs at least one learning objective, and many will likely need more than one. You need a thorough array of learning objectives in order to accurately measure the progress of your learners and their levels of competency. It’s important to be able to measure your learners’ progress so you can evaluate how effective your courses are.
Here are some effective learning objective examples for a variety of user training scenarios. You can use professional learning objectives examples like these to guide you as you write your own objectives, but you’ll need to come up with ideas specifically suited to your business as well.
Here are a few goals you can use to build relevant learning objectives for gig workers:
Here are a few goals you can use to build relevant learning objectives for employees:
Here are a few goals you can use to build relevant learning objectives for customers:
Here are a few goals you can use to build relevant learning objectives for real estate agents:
Here are a few goals you can use to build relevant learning objectives for partners:
These are only a few smart learning objectives examples for different groups of users. You should build your learning objectives around your organization’s specific goals and your users’ specific needs. However, this list of learning examples is a great place to start.
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