Writing Learning Objectives Summary

I. Purpose

Learning objectives identify what your students will be able to do after they complete your course. It’s not what you do in your course, it’s what they can do afterwards.

Your objectives should be expressed in terms of observable, measurable behavior. You need these kinds of objectives to meet the Quality Matters standard.

II. Location

Learning objectives for the course are listed in your syllabus, and objectives relevant to each course module are listed at the beginning of the module.

The Syllabus template in the START HERE content area has a place for listing learning objectives.

Each of the module folders in the Modules area has a Module Overview content item that provides a place for listing objectives.

III. Writing Objectives

Objectives are written from the student’s perspective, and they use an action verb and a noun.


Students will be able to compose a research paper using APA style.”
Students will be able to identify the three components of Baddeley’s model of working memory.” 

IV. Levels of Knowledge – Selecting Action Verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy

Action verbs can be selected from lists provided in Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is a framework for categorizing types of knowledge developed by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom.

Categories in the taxonomy are arranged from those that reflect lower-order skills (knowledge and comprehension) to those involving higher-order skills (applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating). Lower-order skills are generally developed first and then utilized to build higher-order skills. Generally you want to use lower-order objectives early in your course and have them build towards higher-order objectives.

Each category is accompanied by a list of associated action verbs. So you pick a category and then pick a verb.

Bloom’s guides you towards action-oriented verbs. You avoid verbs like “understand,” “learn,” and “know,” which reflect internal states that are difficult to observe or measure.