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Constructing Learning Objectives

Constructing Learning Objectives

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn about different types of learning objectives, the components of them, and how to construct each type.

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Source: Image light, Public Domain,; Image of Digital Bloom’s, Creative Commons,

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Welcome. I'm Tricia Fyfe. And today, I'm going to be exploring the topic Constructing Learning Objectives throughout this video lesson. As we learn about this topic, we'll work toward several learning objectives, together answering the following questions. What are the different types of learning objectives? And how can you better your construction of these different types of learning objectives?

In a previous lesson, we discussed objectives. But today, I'll dive a little deeper. Specifically, we'll talk about the three types of objectives-- cognitive, psychomotor, and affective.

Let's start with cognitive. Cognitive objectives are part of the cognitive process, and involve thinking. These involve what a student should know, understand, and comprehend. These are the easiest of the three objectives to apply technology to. Technology can have many benefits here, including increasing motivation, providing scaffolding opportunities, providing reinforcement, and providing independence in the cognitive domain.

Psychomotor objectives involve action or kinesthetic learning. Physical skills are used to enhance learning. Lab experiments, or learning to use a piece of equipment, such as an instrument, are considered psychomotor objectives. Technology and different online programs might help develop psychomotor skills. For example, students could create an exercise routine using digital cameras, presentation software, or maybe web authoring software and web cams. Lab work and training on the equipment can develop these skills, as well as the physical act of using technology and these programs can develop these psychomotor skills.

Affective objectives have to do with attitudes, relationships, and appreciation. These can be a bit more difficult to measure. Incorporating collaborative opportunities can promote affective skills. And you can use technology to do some of these things, like, maybe, introducing a class to videos and audio clips on certain concepts, or using virtual simulations or web quests. Maybe you could use software programs that allow students to take on different roles.

A common format for writing objectives in all three domains is the ABCD method. A being audience-- who is doing the work? B, the behavior, the product produced, or the task to be completed. C, condition-- the given set of conditions. And D, degree-- the criteria for performance that is acceptable.

Here's an example. Students-- the audience-- will classify 10 different leaves. This is the behavior that they will do. And I'll do this during a lesson on classification in which they were given 10 varied leaves. The degree we want our students to do this is appropriately using a taxonomic key. It's important to note that sometimes it makes more sense for some teachers to think about these letters out of order. For example, during a lesson on classification in which they were given 10 varied leaves, students will classify 10 leaves appropriately using a taxonomic key. So I did condition, audience, behavior, and then degree. Use whatever makes most sense to you.

Let's practice. While constructing cognitive objectives, a great resource is Bloom's Taxonomy. This will help you think about the progression of basic factual knowledge through higher, more complex levels of knowledge.

The second step is thinking about verbs and related actions for your objective. For example, at the remembering level, students might define, list, or underline. At the analyzing level, students might diagnose or estimate. These are verbs that you can use when writing these objectives.

Here's some samples of cognitive learning objectives. Using a rubric to assess, high school English students will compose a five-paragraph essay after learning about the elements of an argumentative essay that includes elements of this essay type. So we have all of these components-- A audience, B behavior, C condition, and D degree. Another example is after completing a class review of vowel sounds-- the condition-- first grade students-- the audience-- will identify short and long vowel words-- the behavio-- in oral and written format successfully-- the degree.

Let's look at constructing learning objectives for psychomotor. When constructing psychomotor objectives, we use the same steps. First, we look at tools such as hierarchy models. Bloom's is just one of these tools. Other models use levels such as observing, imitating, practicing, and adapting. We then determine verbs that we can use to develop our objectives. Verbs such as manipulate, sketch, organize, and measure all fall under psychomotor objectives.

Some examples of psychomotor learning objectives might be middle school biology students-- our audience-- will dissect a frog and label the parts-- behavior-- correctly-- degree-- while participating in a lab on frog anatomy. And this is the condition. Another example is after learning about positive impacts of exercise, high school health students will develop an appropriate physical fitness plan for a specified population using video and audio elements.

Let's talk about affective learning objectives. When constructing affective objectives, we use the same steps. First, we look at tools such as hierarchy models. Bloom's is just one of these. Another example is a taxonomy created by Krathwohl specifically for the affective domain. This model included-- from lowest to highest-- receiving, responding, valuing, organizing, and characterizing. For some of these domains, we might use the verbs cooperate and respond for the domain of responding. Or for valuing, we might use defend or accept.

Some examples and effective learning objectives might be using a rubric, fifth grade students will collaboratively research to create a presentation on how American customs are the same and different than one other culture. Another example might be within the course of a week, middle school students will propose a plan to improve their school environment by creating a presentation for their principal, while learning about a unit on pollution.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. What are the different types of learning objectives? As well as, how can you better your construction of the different types of learning objectives? We talked about three types of learning objectives-- cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. We also looked at how to effectively create each type of objective. And I gave you examples of each using the ABCD model-- audience, behavior, condition, and degree. These are all extremely important in creating objectives.

Now that you're familiar with each of these objectives and the process for constructing them, let's reflect. What are some examples of how you can better your construction of learning objectives in your teaching? How will constructing more effective learning objectives positively impact your students?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Constructing Learning Objectives. I hope you found value in this video lesson, and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching.

For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please do the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on “Constructing Learning Objectives”


(00:00- 00:33) Introduction/Objectives

(00:34- 01:01) Cognitive Objectives

(01:02- 01:39) Psychomotor Learning Objectives

(01:40- 02:09) Affective Learning Objectives

(02:10- 03:22) ABCD Format for Writing Objectives

(03:23- 03:54) Constructing Cognitive Objectives

(03:55- 04:34) Examples of Cognitive Objectives

(04:35- 05:02) Constructing Psychomotor Objectives

(05:03- 05:33) Examples of Psychomotor Objectives

(05:34- -6:11) Constructing Affective Objectives

(06:12- 06:38) Examples of Affective Objectives

(06:39- 07:10) Recap

(07:11- 07:58) Reflection  

Additional Resources

Writing Learning Objectives: Beginning With The End In Mind

This presentation from Heritage College provides a thorough overview on setting learning objectives connected to backwards design and Bloom's Taxonomy. In addition, this presentation clarifies the difference between a learning goal and a learning objective.

Student Learning S.M.A.R.T Goals & Objectives

This presentation from the Eugene School District in Oregon provides a step by step how-to on developing SMART goals connected to learning targets and objectives. The presentation also includes example templates that have been completed as models.