How to create learning objectives

Why learning objectives are needed

Participants in a learning activity need to understand what information or skills they will acquire during the session or event—this is a key component of adult learning. Well-defined learning objectives provide participants with this understanding.

Program developers normally arrive at the learning objectives after doing a needs assessment. The learning objectives in turn help potential participants determine whether an event or session meets their learning needs. Learning objectives clearly map the direction of the content, how it will be presented, and the expected outcome for all parties involved.

How to write learning objectives

Learning objectives should be specific and should be developed for both the overall educational event and the individual sessions.

1) Learning objectives must be written from the learner’s perspective. They should clearly state what a participant will know or be able to do as a result of attending an event or session. A learning objective typically completes a statement like the following:

At the end of this session, participants will be able to _________


Upon completion of the conference, participants should be able to _________

2) Next, your statement needs an action verb describing what the participant will be able to do or the action they will be able to undertake. Avoid using vague or abstract words like believe, value, appreciate, be aware of, be familiar with, etc.

3) Complete the statement with the details of what the participant will be doing when they are demonstrating the action. The details should be specific and refer to the outcome of the learning objective.

Some effective verbs:

For more, see this list of verbs for formulating learning objectives.

Some examples

(For personal knowledge management)

At the end of this session, participants will be able to

  • identify skills related to the creation and use of knowledge that is relevant and important to them;
  • describe the knowledge transfer/translation process when dealing with information; and
  • apply methods that will allow for the creation, gathering, distribution and use of knowledge and information.

(For gap analysis)

At the end of this session, participants will be able to

  • differentiate between subjective and objective needs assessment and describe the importance of both;
  • use methods to identify the gap between current and desired skill/competency; and
  • access resources to assist in filling in areas where a gap in knowledge or skill has been identified.

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Writing learning objectives

Learning outcome objectives