The Source of Learning Objectives

Learning objectives can be a huge obstacle for anyone putting together a training, presentation, or even a meeting. There are a lot of challenges when it comes to objective writing, but one I encounter frequently is understanding the perspective from which we are writing objectives. Let’s look at a couple of objective perspective issues I have encountered, and a rule of thumb to correct these issues.

The Trainer’s Learning Objective

This is probably the biggest issue I see. People approaching a session with their own objectives such as “I need to educate this group on a new process”. That is not a learning objective, that is the presenter’s objective. Objectives should be written from the perspective of the learner and what they need to do. Which brings us to our next mistake.

During this session, the learners will…

Another mistake with learning objective writing is stating what will happen in the session. These objectives look something like “Participants will explore the steps in a new process.” This is not a session objective, but rather an activity in the session. When we think of objectives, we should be thinking about the outcome of the training. This is the outcome you want for the learners.

By the end of this training, learners will be able to…

Using this perspective, we put the focus on the learner instead of the facilitator. Learning objectives are written long before a decision is made on how the participants will interact and engage during the session, and the focus should be on what new tools or skills the learners will have once they walk out of the room.

Whether you call it a goal, objective, or outcome, keep the perspective that the learning objectives are there to clearly define what you want your participants to do as a result of your session. 

Using Soapbox to Clarify Learning Objectives

Very few people (I’ve never met any) love writing learning objectives. One thing our customers tell us is that they love the way Soapbox helps them clarify learning objectives and connect them to their training activities.


learning objectives in Soapbox

To get a better look at how this might help you, sign up for a 15-minute demo or a free trial.

4 thoughts on “The Source of Learning Objectives

  1. Excellent article! Another issue I see is not identifying learning objectives at all. This is dangerous because we are making assumptions about the learning outcomes without our Customer’s sign-off. Or establishing learning objectives but developing training that does not align with them. Learning objectives help provide vision and direction. As a designer, I rely on them heavily.

    • You are right, Gila, and I often wonder why people skip this step. I think they make assumptions and take a shortcut based on that assumption. Sometimes they can get away with it, but more frequently you see a major issue in these projects because they didn’t align expectations with everyone on the project team. It is nice to hear you rely on them heavily, we need more designers with this folded into their process.

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