Back to Basics: Learning Objectives in Education

In this series of short blog posts (‘Back to Basics’), I plan to share a number of basic teaching tips that I have come across on my ITT course.

 

Learning objectives are ‘statements that describe what a learner will be able to do as a result of learning’.

We use them everyday and schools vary in how they expect us to use them effectively. So how should we be writing these to ensure we get the best out of our students?

Learning objectives should state what ‘most’ students will be able to do by the end of the lesson/unit of work/scheme of work. They should be specific and not be restricted to lower level cognitive skills. Students should be able to evaluate their performance/progress against the objective(s) without the teachers input (child friendly).

 

Learning Objectives

 

I have been using, to great effect, a prefix that many schools use for Learning Outcomes:

‘To be able to…’

This then leads onto the main body of the objective that should incorporate a ‘verb’, ‘adjective’/’quality’ and the ‘context’ in which the outcome is based. The verb(s) can relate closely to the key outcome verbs within Blooms Taxonomy to differentiate your learning objectives.

In full your objective should look like this:

To be able to… Verb/Adjective/Context

…in other words…

To be able to… What/How/Where

For example:

To be able to ‘perform a ruck’/’effectively and safely’/’in a game situation’

This learning objective is specific to the skill/task (‘perform a ruck’), tells the pupil how it should be performed – the quality assurance (‘effectively and safely’) and in what context they should be able to demonstrate this skill (‘in a game situation’).

From this students will be able to assess their own/peers performance against a specific and achievable learning objective – no need for a Learning Outcome.

What are your thoughts? How do you structure your learning objectives?

 

Below are some more examples of learning objectives:

  • To be able to… perform a set motif/showing clarity of focus/to a small audience
  • To be able to… lead others/with confidence/when solving a problem
  • To be able to… identify/appropriate times to perform a fast break/in practice situations
  • To be able to… explain the purpose of the 3-person weave/clearly and accurately/in attacking play
  • To be able to… give feedback/positive and accurate/about a partner’s performance
  • To be able to… evaluated/logically/their team’s success when using a zone defence
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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Janie Wells says:

    Hello Mr. Wickens. My name is Janie and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am majoring in Elementary Education. I am currently taking my first education course so i know I have a lot to learn. I found your discussion of learning objectives to be interesting. I think that your approach to writing a learning objective would be appropriate for all grades and subjects, not just PE. You mentioned that the goal is also for the student “to assess their own/peers performance against a specific and achievable learning objective.” How does this relate to a Learning Outcome? I look forward to your next post.

    1. mrwickenspe says:

      Hi Jamie, apologies for taking so long to reply. By students assessing their own/peers performance against an objective, that in effect is an outcome. This maybe should be made more specific. See my later posts of learning objectives – it is amazing how much my teaching has evolved over just a few months (https://mrwickenspe.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/back-to-basics-learning-objectives-in-physed-2/)

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