6 Tips To Frame Learning Objectives To Achieve Maximum Impact

6 Tips To Frame Learning Objectives To Achieve Maximum Impact
Summary: Written learning objectives are a tool to help online instructors plan their lessons. But they also help point your online learners in the right direction and focus their efforts. Can writing them the right (or wrong) way affect the efficacy of your eLearning course?

How To Frame Learning Objectives To Achieve Maximum Impact

Think back to your school days. Were you consciously aware of lesson plans or teaching goals? Probably not. If you’re a parent, you might be involved in your kids’ school. You’ve probably asked his/her teacher about their plans for the class. Now think about the last time you attended a meeting. You most likely went straight for the agenda so that you knew what to expect and could plan accordingly. When you travel, you work around timetables and flight schedules. So, when it comes to adult learning, having a structured approach is essential. It sets up learning expectations and primes your online learners. Here are 6 top tips to frame learning objectives to achieve maximum impact.

Top Tips To Draft Targeted Training Objectives

1. Distinguish Goals From Learning Objectives

Teaching targets are the pillars your eLearning course is built around. They’re the ‘goal posts’ you and your online learners will aim at when they want to score. Learning objectives are the how-to steps that will deliver your goals. Goals are broad, such as, ‘Show compliance with new industry regulations.’ Learning objectives are more detailed, achievable, and measurable, for instance, ‘Pass a compliance test and gain certification.’

The function of a goal is to set expectations for online learners. It tells them ‘why’ they’re taking the eLearning course and motivates them to push through it. Learning objectives explain exactly how this feat will be attained. It breaks the goal down into ‘bullet points’ they can tick as they go. This means you must design learning objectives in the form of individual eLearning activities and tasks. They need to be clear, actionable, and measurable. Use direct, simple language rather than abstractions.

2. Start With Pressing Questions

Answer the question: ‘When I finish this eLearning course, I will know how to …’ in broad terms. This gives you an umbrella to work under when framing learning objectives. Once you have the overarching concept, you can break down ‘how’ these will be achieved. Specificity is crucial. Your learning objectives need to be as distinct as – for example:

  • Identify five key areas of organizational non-compliance.
  • Converse with a waiter, make an order at a restaurant, or ask for directions in the language you’re learning.
  • Know how to use the new software to book customer orders.

You might remember from your grammar lessons that verbs are ‘doing words’. However, some verbs are more direct and can be described as ‘action verbs’. These are good options when you’re writing your learning objectives. You'll want to use words like mention, list, identify, explain, classify etc. Why these verbs specifically? Because they’re measurable, and you need your learning objectives to be quantifiable.

3. Follow Bloom’s Example

The revised Bloom’s taxonomy is one of the most helpful tools for framing learning objectives. It divides the learning process into six categories: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create. The taxonomy goes further and lists more than a dozen suitable verbs for each category. You can literally mix and match them to come up with workable learning objectives. The taxonomy is easy to use. It’s often presented as a chart, graph, table, or color-coded wheel. Avoid cognitive verbs like understand, appreciate, learn about, or become familiar with. Yes, you will fulfill all these in the course of your … course. But these aren’t verbs that can be subjectively evaluated. You can’t prove that you ‘comprehend’ a concept. But you can clearly ‘demonstrate’ that same concept, making the latter a better learning objective. Cognitive verbs are more appropriate for goals/targets than they are for framing learning objectives.

4. Take A Practical Approach

Online training is one of the most realistic forms of learning. You literally learn things you will use in your everyday work. As you write your learning objectives, focus on that. Yes, you want to boost your online learners’ esteem and improve their career trajectory. Those are generic goals. But what do you specifically want them to learn? Do they need to know how to drive a delivery truck through the snow? Or how to calm down a customer demanding a refund? Maybe they need to master negotiation skills to get a discount from large suppliers? Those are learning objectives, and that’s how you should frame them.

5. Make It Measurable

Learning objectives are only useful for your eLearning developers, LMS admins, and online learners if they can actually track progress and performance. Thus, they must be measurable and be based on clear criteria. For example, how will you determine if online learners are able to display a specific skill? What is your definition of ‘proficient’ when it comes to task mastery? Measurable learning objectives also give online learners the ability to identify pain points and fix them with the available resources. For instance, they’ve tackled the communication skills aspect of the learning objective. But still need to work on their negotiation abilities in order to achieve the primary learning objective.

6. Know Your Audience’s Vocabulary

Simply worded learning objectives are your best bet. Online learners shouldn’t have to break out the dictionary to decipher the statement. For this reason, you need to get to know their background, experience level, and vocabulary to effectively frame your learning objective. Avoid technical jargon they may not understand or complicated terms that leave room for ambiguity. For example, objective statements that have double negatives or multiple facets. If it’s more involved, try dividing it 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 framed learning objectives make it easier – both for you and your online learners– to test the efficacy of their eLearning. It also helps with marketing the eLearning course, because at a glance, buyers can tell if your eLearning content is the right fit. First, differentiate your goals with your learning objectives. Craft the goals/targets, then break them down into individual learning objectives.

Do adults learn in the same way as their younger counterparts, or do they need their own special approach to absorb the information? Do you know what your adult learners need to achieve their goals and tackle everyday challenges? Download our free eBook Designing eLearning Courses For Adult Learners: The Complete Guide to discover about the adult learner characteristics, the obstacles they need to overcome, ways to engage and motivate busy adult learners, and some amazing adult learning facts and stats you need to know as an eLearning pro.