Achieving is the sign of successful learning

Chapter 5
Learning Objectives
Achieving is the sign of successful learning.
Chapter Five Learning Objectives
Readers will achieve the following learning objectives after reading
Chapter Five.
1 Define learning objectives and explain the benefits of using learning
objectives in training programs.
2 Describe and explain the relationship between training program
goals and training program learning objectives.
3 Identify and describe the four major components of a learning
objective.
4 Identify and explain the levels of learning objectives based on
Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning.
5 Identify, describe, and compare the difference between cognitivebased learning objectives, skills-based learning objectives, and abilitiesbased learning objectives.
6 Describe the relationship between the needs assessment and learning
objectives.
7 Describe the relationship between learning objectives and instructional methods.
8 Describe the relationship between learning objectives and the subject
matter of a training program.
9 Explain the relationship between learning objectives and assessment
methods.
10 Identify and explain the reasons non-homogeneous groups of trainees
require different types of learning objectives.
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52 Learning Objectives
Learning Objective #1: Define Learning Objectives and
Explain the Benefits of Using Learning Objectives in
Training Programs
A training program learning objective represents a statement of what the
trainee will know or be able to do by the end of the training. Learning objectives provide a focus for the trainee and trainer. Both the trainee and trainer
know the expectations and their roles to achieve the learning objectives.
Learning objectives need to have a narrow focus to avoid creating any
possible confusion that can obfuscate the purpose of the objective. The
intent in creating a successful training program is to begin by creating learning objectives that present observable and measurable behavioral outcomes.
Behavior is measurable (and described using verbs such as “demonstrate,”
“explain,” “perform,” etc.), whereas concepts are non-measurable and open
to misinterpretation of the results (and described using terms such as “create a
positive environment,” “learn the concepts,” “be satisfied,” etc.).
Learning objectives are similar to SMART goals. SMART goals share
many of the same characteristics as a well written learning objective.
SMART goals are: S(specific), M(measurable), A(achievable), R(realistic),
and T(time-limited). Specificity is important to ensure that the objective
is concise, because learning objectives shape other important components
of the training program (e.g., instructional methods, subject matter, etc.).
Measurement is important because of the need to assess success. Training is
always time-limited and the training program designers need to write learning objectives that are attainable, realistic, and achievable during training if
the program is to be successful. Because training is time-limited, learning
objectives cannot be so ambitious that the trainee is likely to fail. Failure
in achieving the learning objectives is antithetical to designing and implementing a successful training program.
In writing learning objectives, the author(s) needs to understand that the
underlying principle in writing them is to create learner-centered learning
objectives that are simple, measurable statements which contribute to trainee
success and to achieving the training program goals.
Well-designed learning objectives offer several important benefits.
• Trainers and trainees keep focused because the learning objectives represent the agenda for training.
• Successful achievement of learning objectives serves as a form of intrinsic reward for the trainees and can result in extrinsic rewards from
the organization.
• Successful achievement of the learning objectives often contributes to
boosting trainee self-esteem (Ross, 2015) which contributes to more
productive employees.
• Success in achieving the learning objectives reinforces the values associated with the training program and the organization’s culture at large.
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Learning Objectives 53
• Successful achievement of the learning objectives benefits the organization’s efforts in accomplishing the training program goals and the overall
goals of the organization.
Examples of poorly stated learning objectives include:
• Trainees learn the organization’s policy on sexual harassment.
• Trainees learn how to provide good customer service.
• Trainees are able to order supplies.
• Trainees can create an organized work area.
• Trainees learn the new hiring process.
Examples of well written learning objectives include:
• At the completion of training, trainees can state the five major parts of
the organization’s sexual harassment policy.
• At the completion of training, trainees can define the organization’s policy on providing good customer service.
• At the completion of training, trainees can list the sequence of steps in
the supply ordering process.
• At the completion of training, trainees can list and describe the five major
characteristics of a work area.
• At the completion of training, trainees can label, describe, and explain
each of the steps in the new hiring process.
Learning Objective #2: Describe and Explain the Relationship
between Training Program Goals and Training Program
Learning Objectives
Learning objectives originate indirectly from an organization’s efforts to bring
about change within the organization’s operations. Organizations develop
strategic goals that represent targets to accomplish to realize the organization’s long-term vision. An organization’s strategies are a catalyst for the type
of changes the organization identifies as representing the best ways to achieve
the strategic goals. Strategic goals and the strategies have an effect on the
choice of operational goals. One category of operational goals is training
goals. Training goals are necessary for the people responsible for implementing the changes initiated by the strategic goals and strategies, because where
there is change, employee job descriptions can change, requiring employees
to perform in new ways. Figure 5.1 shows the series of cause and effect relationships that evolve from the vision and strategic goals.
Vision Strategic
Goals Strategy Training
Goals
Training
Strategy
Learning
Objectives
Figure 5.1 The Relationship between an Organization’s Vision and Learning Objectives
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54 Learning Objectives
Learning objectives and training goals communicate performance expectations which provide the focus for the training programs. Training goals
can directly and indirectly benefit the organization’s efforts at achieving the
strategic goals. For example, a direct benefit is training that covers the strategic plan, roles of key personnel, new responsibilities, etc. Training that
provides an indirect benefit could cover a new hiring process, sexual harassment policy, new performance appraisal process, etc. Indirect benefits focus
on creating a work place free of distractions and disruptions that can interfere
with employee performance.
Success in achieving the learning objectives contributes to success in
achieving the training goals. Learning objectives are a necessary complement to training goals because learning objectives differ from training goals.
Training goals represent broad statements of purpose that are often stated in
measurable terms. Below are several examples of training goals.
• Training supply-chain managers on how to increase cost savings
from suppliers.
• Training sales managers on how to improve sales force sales.
• Training leads to more positive employee attitudes.
• Training results in an improved work environment.
• Training achieves the goal of strengthening the new product development process.
Even if a training goal is measurable, such as “training will lead to a 10% decline
in supplier costs within six months,” these training goals are broad statements of
intent. Learning objectives provide the focus and specific outcomes associated
with achieving the training goal. There are three categories of learning objectives. First, there are informational learning objectives that focus training on
providing trainees with needed knowledge. Second, there are skills-based learning objectives. These objectives focus on getting trainees to be able to perform
some action. Third, there are learning objectives that emphasize developing a
trainee’s abilities. Abilities development emphasizes such personal attributes as
problem-solving, analytical abilities, categorizing, identifying important issues
among an assortment of issues, value development, etc.
Examples of learning objectives can illustrate how learning objectives
evolve from a training goal. Using the training goal of training supply-chain
managers to increase cost savings from suppliers as an example, below are
some examples of possible learning objectives.
• Knowledge-based learning objectives
a Trainees are able to cite major contract terms.
b Trainees are able to define the policy on offering early shipping
terms to suppliers.
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Learning Objectives 55
c Trainees are able to identify and describe the new supply-chain
negotiating process.
• Skills-based learning objectives
a Trainees are able to demonstrate how to use the new order entry
system.
b Trainees are able to document the major supplier costs.
c Trainees are able to input supplier data using the new order entry system.
• Abilities-based learning objectives
a Trainees can cite the benefits associated with reducing supply costs.
b Trainees demonstrate the use of cost-saving strategies.
c Trainees demonstrate negotiating abilities associated with reducing
supplier costs.
Achieving learning objectives strengthens the talents of employees, which benefits the organization and the organization’s efforts at achieving strategic goals.
Learning Objective #3: Identify and Describe the Four Major
Components of a Learning Objective
Learning objectives need to be precise because the purpose of training is to
enable trainees to learn about a subject that benefits the organization and the
trainee. All other components of the training program, i.e., the instructional
methods, subject matter of the training program, and assessment methods, are
selected to accomplish the learning objectives. Precise learning objectives are
essential for a training program to be well designed.
There are four elements that define an effective learning objective. Action
verbs represent one element of an effective learning objective. An action verb
expresses an action towards a subject. A subject could either be a cognitive
activity or a physical activity.
Examples of action verbs include:
Achieved Documented Produced
Advised Encouraged Reduced
Briefed Formed Revised
Consulted Generated Selected
Contributed maintained Tested
Passive verb use describes the action and minimizes the active role of the
subject in a statement. Examples of passive verb use include:
Will be watched To be documented Was shown
Will be closed Is fragmented Are always answered
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56 Learning Objectives
Another element of an effective learning objective is the subject of the objective. There are three categories of subjects. These are: cognitive subjects,
skills (psychomotor), and abilities (affective). The cognitive basis for the
subject originates from Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning. Bloom’s
taxonomy of learning and the relationship with learning objectives is covered
under learning objective #4.
Content is the focus of the learning objective subject. Subject issues need
an exactness in phrasing to ensure that the designers of the training program
cover that specific subject. Examples of each category of subject follow.
Cognitive Subjects
• Policy on bullying
• Hiring process
• Promotion process
• Policy on dealing with angry customers
• Accounts receivable policy
Skill Subjects
• Operate hydraulic lift
• Assemble computer box
• Cut granite counter tops
• Lay down a tile floor
• Install light fixtures
Abilities (affective)
• Problem-solving
• Value creation
• Value development
• Analytical skills
• Categorizing
• Process management
The third element of an effective learning objective is performance criteria.
Performance criteria refer to how well trainees need to know or do something. Performance criteria reflect the expectations trainees need to meet.
Performance criteria are commonly phrased in quantitative terms. Examples
of performance criteria follow.
• Trainees will know all the important parts of the sexual harassment policy.
• Trainees will gain 70 or higher in the Series Seven exam.
• Trainees need a score of 90 or higher to pass the exam covering basic
accounting subjects.
• Trainees need to solve 9 out of 10 problems on the test covering the new
hiring process.
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Learning Objectives 57
• Trainees are able to identify 8 out of 10 problems on the problem
identification test.
The last element of an effective learning objective relates to the conditions
or circumstances that trainees need to accommodate in order to demonstrate
results. The examples mentioned in describing the third element cover conditions as well as numeric performance criteria. “Will know,” “will earn,”
“need a score of,” “need to solve,” and “are able to identify” are all examples
of conditional-type statements conveying to the trainee the expectations for
successfully achieving the learning objective. The conditions, along with the
performance criteria, represent what trainees need to do to show they have
achieved the learning objectives.
Learning Objective #4: Identify and Explain the Levels of
Learning Objectives Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of
Cognitive Learning
Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning offers a paradigm for understanding
adult learning and the associated levels of learning that are possible. Levels
refer to the range of cognitive complexity associated with learning. An individual’s intellectual and physical limits represent constraints to learning at
higher levels, though individuals can underperform as well.
Conceptualizing the learning process using levels of learning as the basis
for developing the trainee’s learning process is a useful paradigm because levels
provide a framework for dividing the learning process into blocks of learning. Each block uses the preceding block(s) to advance the trainee’s learning
capabilities. Maximizing learning is always the trainer’s goal. Levels of learning
offer the designers of the training program a conceptual framework for organizing the learning process into homogeneous learning blocks, each block associated with a qualitatively different form of intellectual thinking.
Another way to understand the purpose of Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning is to think of levels as levels of competencies. Competency
does not imply incompetency, so much as whether the trainee’s ability to
understand a subject in a particular way is limited or non-existent. Training
is meant to build competency in some subject. A training program might
have no restrictions on understanding subject matter prior to the start of
training, or there may be pre-requisites prior to entering a training program.
For example, students may need Principles of Management as a pre-requisite,
to take an advanced course such as Organizational Behavior. The Principles
course had no pre-requisite course because the course is introductory and
the emphasis is on knowledge acquisition. Knowledge acquisition is the basic
level in Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning.
Learning objectives can and should follow the model of levels of intellectual thinking presented in Bloom’s taxonomy, with the achievement of each
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58 Learning Objectives
objective(s) functioning as a building block to the next level. After all, an
individual learning how to swim does not begin by swimming immediately.
There are prior stages to the learning to swim process to build on as the individual moves towards the swim stage. This learn to swim program can serve
as a basic building block to achieve an advanced level of swimming. Bloom’s
taxonomy helps to understand how the model can apply within a program
and among several related programs (e.g., advanced swimming, special swimming techniques, etc.).
Bloom’s taxonomy encompasses three categories of learning, referred to as
domains. These are the cognitive domain, the psychomotor skills domain, and
the affective domain (which is referred to as the abilities domain to provide
a clearer understanding of the subject matter associated with this domain).
Tables 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 provide details describing each of the domains
covered in Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning, with brief explanations
Table 5.1 An Overview of the Cognitive Domain Using the Strategic Management
Course as an Example
Level Ranking1 Focus Example
Knowledge 6 Basic concepts Pre-requisite courses
Comprehension 5 Explain basic concepts Tell what concepts mean such as
the term “strategy”
Application 4 Demonstrate use of
concept
Use concepts in correct context
Analysis 3 Interpret the use of
concepts in a real-life
situation
The organization needs to
pursue a growth strategy in an
expanding domestic economy
Synthesis 2 Combine concepts within
a larger category
Conduct comprehensive
industry study
Evaluation 1 Make assessments or
evaluations
Draw conclusions from a
comprehensive industry study
1
Low to high.
Table 5.2 An Overview of the Psychomotor Skills Domain Using the Renovation of a
Bathroom as an Example
Level Ranking1 Focus Example
Imitation 5 Copying someone Apprentice to a plumber who
renovates bathrooms
Manipulation 4 To control with some skill To perform basic bathroom
renovations independently
Precision 3 Accuracy of work is
important
The ability to do detailed work
with few errors
Articulation 2 The ability to show or
direct others
Explain to subordinate apprentice
the work to do/give directions
Naturalization 1 Demonstrates mastery The ability to design and renovate
a bathroom with no guidance
1
Low to high
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Learning Objectives 59
describing each level along with examples to demonstrate how each level
forms and evolves.
Learning Objective #5: Identify, Describe, and Compare
the Difference between Cognitive-Based Learning Objectives,
Skill-Based Learning Objectives, and Abilities-Based
Learning Objectives
Cognitive-based learning objectives emphasize the intellectual development
of the trainee. Table 5.4 identifies and describes the primary cognitive competencies that serve as the foundation of the cognitive domain referred to in
Bloom’s taxonomy of learning. Intellectual cognitive learning objectives are
achievable based on the ability of the learner to learn how to use these capabilities along with the relevant instructional methods.
Table 5.3 An Overview of the Abilities Domain (Affective Domain) with Examples for
Understanding Its Development
Level Ranking1 Focus Example
Personal 3 Talent, expertise or mastery
that comes naturally
Organizing, problem-solving,
communicating
Professional 2 Talents, expertise or
mastery that comes
from being proactive in
self-development
Taking courses, specialized
workshops, unique
instructional methods all
intended to develop abilities to
strengthen work performance
Ethical 1 Active development and
extension of moral code
of conduct
Creating personal code of
conduct or moral compass
through value-creating or
value-building activities
1 Low to high
Table 5.4 Primary Cognitive Capabilities and Important Themes Associated with these
Capabilities
Cognitive Capabilities Theme
Perception • Awareness using senses
Attention • Focus on a subject
Memory • Process of storing information, categorizing and
retrieving information
Language • Communication functions
Visual and spatial processing • Intellectual capability to process information by
manipulating and differentiating visually, and thinking
about objectives multi-dimensionally
Executive functions • Goal-oriented with the ability to plan and implement
the plan to achieve the goal
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60 Learning Objectives
Table 5.5 identifies and describes the primary skills that serve as the basis
for psychomotor domain skills. Skills-based learning objectives emphasize
one or more of these skills. Higher-order skills-based learning objectives are
achievable only if the trainee has the capacity and motivation to learn the skill.
Table 5.6 identifies the personal abilities of the learner and the focus of
each ability. These are merely examples, as there are others. Learning objectives that emphasize the development of the individual focus on these types
of abilities.
Cognitive capabilities, skills, and personal abilities are presented separately
to illustrate each domain’s unique characteristics. However, there is often
an interdependency among the three areas that training program designers
expect when creating the learning objectives. Learning objectives can emphasize cognitive learning, skill learning or abilities development, but each type
of learning objective depends on the other categories for support to enable
the trainee to achieve the objective. In short, learning is mutually supportive
among the three categories, even if the focus of an objective is just one of
the categories. For example, if the focus of training is to learn how to design
a new bathroom, the trainee needs analysis and synthesis learning objectives,
Table 5.5 Primary Skills Capabilities and Important Themes Associated with These Skills
Skills Theme
Communication skills • Listen, process information, and respond
Capacity to learn1 • Intellectual and psychological factors
Team skills • Work with others to coordinate
Planning skills • Identify a project to complete and identify the
process or sequence of steps to follow
Dexterity of fine motor skills • Use of small muscles to perform tasks that require
hand-eye coordination
Dexterity of gross motor skills • Use of major muscle groups to perform tasks that
require successful use of these muscles
1
Though not a skill, capacity represents the extent to which a learner can develop advanced skills.
Table 5.6 Examples of Personal Abilities and Important Themes Associated with These
Abilities
Abilities Theme
Intellectual capacity • Native intelligence to learn and conceptualize in abstract terms
Values • Learned factors that influence behavior
Psychology • Development of sense of self-worth
Communication skills • Native ability to listen, process information, and respond
Self-motivation • Ability to achieve through self-initiative
Dexterity
• Fine motor
• Gross motor
• Native ability with hand/eye coordination
• Natural muscular strength
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Learning Objectives 61
articulation learning objectives, and problem-solving and communication
skills learning objectives. Trainees need to know how to break down the
project into stages in a process, linking the stages in sequence, and then present a model of the finished product by writing a proposal with a diagram(s).
Learning Objective #6: Describe the Relationship
between Needs Assessment and Learning Objectives
A needs assessment and learning objectives represent important steps in the
training program design process. These are important because each contributes to achieving the training goals linked to the organization’s strategic goals.
Decision-makers initiate the process by indicating that employees or a sub-set
of employees need to advance their development to further the interests of
the organization. As described previously, the first step in the design process
is to conduct a needs assessment. A needs assessment can either be a formal
or informal process, as determined by the circumstances. However, what
is essential during this step is the necessity to know all about the audience
for training purposes, the learning requirements, and the capabilities of the
trainees. Learning requirements refer to the types of instructional methods to
use during training. Capabilities refer to the intellectual capacity, skill level,
as well as prior experiences that serve as a foundation to build upon during
the learning process. For example, if knowledge is lacking and knowledge
is a necessary pre-condition for further learning, then providing the knowledge is a necessary pre-condition for further learning. If a skill is lacking,
then developing rudimentary skills is a necessary pre-condition to advance
skill development. Personal abilities often are present in some form with the
learner, but the need to understand how to build on or advance that ability is
a necessary pre-condition for advanced training sessions.
After successfully completing the needs assessment, the next stage in the
design process is to identify the training goals that decision-makers expect
the training program to accomplish. Achieving the training goals is important because these goals benefit the organization in directly or indirectly
enabling the organization to achieve its strategic goals. Training goals,
broad in focus, directly influence the selection of learning objectives, which
is the next stage in the design process. The learning objectives provide the
focus that the training program designers and trainers require to achieve the
training goals.
The remaining steps of the training program design process include identifying the instructional methods to use, developing program content, selecting
the assessment methods to use to assess whether the trainees have achieved all
of the learning objectives, as well as post-training reflection for the designers and trainers to use in evaluating the program. Reflection should focus on
program strengths, areas for improvement, and to determine the extent to
which the program achieved the training program goals.
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62 Learning Objectives
Learning Objective #7: Describe the Relationship between
Learning Objectives and Instructional Methods
The next step in the training program design process following the selection
of the learning objectives is the step for choosing instructional methods. Two
primary factors influence the selection of instructional methods. Andragogy, the
theory on adult learning, describes adult learners as individuals who learn best
through the use of particular instructional methods. The second important factor
is to match the instructional methods with learning objectives that enable trainees
to achieve the learning objectives. The instructional methods selection process
is the logical next step for identifying ways to achieve the learning objectives.
Instructional methods facilitate the achievement of the learning objectives.
Because of the important role of instructional methods, training program
designers need to be aware of how the adult learner learns best. All adult
trainees need to be motivated in particular ways during the training process
to ensure trainees work to learn the subject matter. Identifying the instructional methods best suited to motivate trainees is a vital contributing factor in
trainees achieving the learning objectives.
Adult learners prefer to draw from their personal experiences as a connecting bridge to learning something new. The use of instructional methods that
draw on personal experiences is the preferred way for adults to learn. Adult
learners also prefer learning new subjects through the process of identifying
and solving problems. Working with problems is a familiar process to the
adult learner, who has experienced numerous work-related types of problems
in the past, solved these problems, and developed a problem-solving process
to use in future situations.
The adult learner is inherently practical, and this practicality means that
learning is strengthened when the subject matter is relevant to the learner’s
job and career. The choice of instructional methods serves as the “best” means
for maximizing learning in regard to the learner’s self-interest. Instructional
methods perceived as serving the interests of the trainee motivate the trainee,
whereas those perceived as not useful are shunned or resisted.
Adult learners enjoy learning with and from others, preferably peers.
Adults relate better with other adults perceived as having similar types of
experiences. In short, they know that each peer shares experiences without really knowing each person personally. Furthermore, adults are open to
learning from other adults because they believe that other adults can share
strategies that worked in similar situations and/or can offer insights on how a
learner can deal with a problem or situation differently.
Adult learners prefer to learn through the use of a variety of instructional
methods, in particular methods where the trainee is an active participant
involved in the learning process and not in a passive learning role (e.g., the
use of lectures). Chapter Six identifies and describes different instructional
methods and provides numerous examples of the instructional methods preferred by the adult learner. Designers need to be cognizant of the importance
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Learning Objectives 63
of selecting a variety of relevant instructional methods to keep the attention
of the adult learner, motivate the adult learner to want to learn, and represent
the best ways to maximize learning by the adult learner.
Learning Objective #8: Describe the Relationship
between Learning Objectives and the Subject of
the Training Program
The next step in designing the training program is the content or subject
matter step. The subject represents the content for the trainees to learn and
achieve the learning objectives. Designers need to be alert to the time constraints as well as other constraints when developing the content. At the same
time, the designers need to ensure that the range and depth of the subject matter is sufficient. Trainees need to be able to achieve the learning objectives.
Excess information discourages trainees because of the perceived and felt
stress associated with too much information. Insufficient information is equally
stressful for trainees, knowing that this negatively impacts their job performance.
Table 5.7 provides an example of the association between a number of
learning objectives linked with the goal of re-designing the hiring process,
Table 5.7 The Relationship between Learning Objectives and the Subject Matter for a
Training Program Covering a New Hiring Process
Learning Objectives Subject Matter
1 Trainees are able to demonstrate
the correct method for using the
Prospective Employee I.Q. test
• Purpose of the I.Q. test
• Process for administering the I.Q. test
2 Trainees are able to explain
and interpret the Prospective
Employee I.Q. test
• I.Q. test score interpretation and the pass
rate required
• Sub-categories test scores interpretation
• Limitations of test score
3 Trainees are able to describe
the process for conducting the
Telephone Role Play test
• Process for using the Telephone Role Play test
• Providing directions for using the Telephone
Role Play test
• Practice administering the Telephone Role Play
test
4 Trainees are able to cite and
explain the purpose for using
a formal process for checking
references
• Trainees review the reference check questions
• Trainees review the process to follow in
asking references to answer the reference
check questions
5 Trainees are able to describe
and demonstrate the new hiring
process
• Trainees review the process and form for
presenting the responses from the reference
check process
• Trainees learn how to objectify the resume
screening process
• Trainees learn how to objectify the
information generated during the interview
process
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64 Learning Objectives
and the specific subjects associated with each learning objective. Aiming to
fill financial advisor positions through recruitment, the financial service firm’s
HR department introduces use of the Prospective Employee I.Q. test, the
Telephone Role Play test, standardized reference check questions, and the
reporting process to follow when presenting the responses from references.
Finally, trainees learn about the new process designed to implement the modified hiring process.
The subjects covered need to match against the learning objectives to
ensure that the trainees receive the information needed to achieve each of
the learning objectives. Lack of coverage or insufficient coverage can lead to
results that fail to meet expectations.
Learning Objective #9: Explain the Relationship between
Learning Objectives and Assessment Methods
The assessment step of the training program design process is important
because assessment determines if the trainees have achieved the learning
objectives. Achieving the learning objectives is simple if achievement is
defined as either all or nothing. For example, “trainees are able to identify
and describe each step in the new hiring process.”
However, there are variations within learning objectives, in terms of
whether achieving defined levels of performance are associated with achieving the objective, or whether there is a minimum pass rate that indicates what
is necessary to achieve the learning objective. For example, a learning objective might state that “trainees are able to demonstrate the ability to assemble
a 3-speed bicycle within 30 minutes or less.” This is an example of a level of
performance. The same learning objective can be used to state that “trainees
must demonstrate the ability to assemble a 3-speed bicycle within 30 minutes
or less to become certified as a bicycle assembler.” This is an example of a
required pass rate. The examples show how to write a level-of-performance
learning objective and a required-pass-rate learning objective.
There are two broad categories of assessment methods: informal types of
assessment methods and formal types of assessment methods. There are no
narrowly defining criteria that guide program designers in terms of selecting methods from one or the other category, or both. Often, when trainers require immediate feedback, the preference is for informal methods, and
some of the most common informal methods include Q&A, taking trainees aside to question them, an unplanned quiz, or contests used to motivate
trainees but which also serve the purpose of providing feedback on whether
trainees are learning the subject matter.
Formal assessment methods are necessary if quantifiable forms of feedback
are necessary. One of the circumstances where formal methods are necessary occurs when the learning objectives follow a sequence. Trainers need to
complete the basics so as to move forward to advanced levels. Trainees need
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Learning Objectives 65
to demonstrate or show performance proficiency prior to moving forward
towards achieving the next learning objective(s). The objectives incorporate
performance criteria because of the need for quantifiable feedback. Trainers
need to learn if the trainees are performing relative to the expectations framed
by the performance criteria of each learning objective. Formal assessment
methods that generate quantifiable information to be used also help to justify
the value of a training program to the organization. The organization needs
to know if the training goals have been achieved.
Learning Objective #10: Explain the Reasons
Non-Homogeneous Groups of Trainees Require
Different Types of Learning Objectives
Trainees are often grouped together for practical reasons, but the grouping
typically encompasses a heterogeneous mix of individuals. The problem with
this approach is that many trainees’ motivation will vary, because the mixed
grouping constrains learning the subject matter, since the information presented is either too advanced or repetitive. Expediency is therefore offset by
less than optimal training results.
It is important for designers to understand how trainees can differ. First,
aptitude or capacity for learning is an important differentiator because each
trainee’s learning ability is constrained by their capacity limitations. A second
issue is prior experience. Trainees with lots of experience need advanced
training, while those with less experience require training commensurate
with their level of experience. Finally, trainees can differ according to variations in their personal abilities. These include personal values, physical capabilities, psychological abilities, and social skills.
In designing a training program for a heterogeneous group of trainees,
information from the needs assessment provides the designers with foreknowledge of the group’s differences so as to design the program to meet the
needs of all the participants.
Designers can identify universal learning objectives that apply to the entire
group, and learning objectives for each of the sub-groups identified prior
to training. Designers need to screen trainees during the needs assessment
process, directly or indirectly, to learn if the group of trainees is sufficiently
different to warrant designing a training program organized to focus on each
sub-group of trainees.
Other stages in the design process are equally impacted by a heterogeneous
group of trainees. Instructional methods need to be relevant for when trainees are disaggregated into sub-groups. Likewise, the subject matter needs to
be relevant for each sub-group along with the choice of assessment methods
used to evaluate trainee learning. Training can succeed with a heterogeneous
group of trainees, but the designers need to understand that designing a program for a heterogeneous group requires a complex training program.
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66 Learning Objectives
An example will help the reader understand the issue associated with
learning objective #10. Financial firms employ financial advisors. There are
novice financial advisors, experienced financial advisors and sophisticated
financial advisors: three primary groups of advisors. If the subject matter of the
training program is sales training, then novices require a more basic form of
sales training that is equivalent to a college introductory course. Experienced
financial advisors require the equivalent to coursework beyond the introductory course. Finally, sophisticated financial advisors benefit most from a
graduate-level course equivalent to advanced sales training. The training program needs to meet the needs of each sub-group to provide the foundation
for a successful training outcome.
Questions
1 Describe the link between learning objectives and a training program.
2 What is the source of learning objectives? Explain.
3 Identify and describe the three types of learning objectives.
4 Explain what is meant by levels of cognitive learning.
5 Identify and describe the four attributes of a learning objective.
Bibliography
Acito, A. (2002). Learning objectives: A practical overview. Praxis Learning Networks (online).
Available at: https://clt.odu.edu/ofo/assets/pdf/Learning_Objectives.pdf. 1–3.
Adams, N.E. (2015). Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive learning objectives. Journal of Medical
Library Associations. 103(3): 152–153.
Allan, L. (2008). Writing learning objectives. Business Performance (online). Available at:
http://www.businessperform.com/workplace-training/writing_learning_objectives.
html. 1–3.
Bonner, S.E. (1999). Choosing teaching methods based on learning objectives: An
integrative framework. Issues in Accounting Education. 14(1): 11–39.
Center for the Enhancement of Learning & Teaching. (2009). Learning objectives. 1–6.
Gamarra, F., Noel, J.L., Brunelli, A., Dingmany, A.M., Felip, E., Mina, G., Bogdan,
D.G., Hardavella, G., Huber, R.M., Janes, S., Massard, G., Martin, P., Sculier, J.P.,
Schnabel, P.A., Ramella, S., Raemdonck, D.V., & Meert, A.P. (2016). Thoracic
oncology HERMES: European curriculum recommendations for training in thoracic
oncology. Breathe. 12(3): 249–255.
Golia, J. & Katz, R.M. (2017). Crafting effective learning objectives (online). Available at:
TeachArchives.org. May 5. 1–3.
Huitt, W. (2014). Bloom et al.’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain. Available at: www.
edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cognition/bloom.html. August 24. 1–4.
Learning Management Corporation. (2008). Developing clear learning outcomes and
objectives (online). Available at: http://www.csu.edu/CTRE/pdf/developingclearoutcomesandobjectives.pdf. 1–6.
Martin, H. (2007). Constructing student learning outcomes. NACADA Clearinghouse
(online). Available at: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/ViewArticles/Constructing-student-learning-outcomes.aspx. 1–9.
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McNamara, C. (2012). Designing training plans and learning objectives. Free Management
Library (online). Available at: https://managementhelp.org/training/systematic/
guidelines-to-design-training.htm. 1–11.
Michelon, P. (2006). What are cognitive abilities and skills, and how to boost them? Sharp
Brains Virtual Summit (online). Available at: https://sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/12/18/
what-are-cognitive-abilities/.
Osters, S. & Tiv, F.S. (2013). Writing measurable learning outcomes. 3rd Annual Texas
A&M Assessment Conference. Available at: http://www.gavilan.edu/research/spd/
Writing-Measurable-Learning-Outcomes.pdf.1–10.
Park, C. (2004). Writing quality learning objectives (online). Available at: Captain Park.
edu. 1–7.
Ross, S. (2015). The Road to Self-Leadership Development: Busting Out of Your Comfort Zone.
Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.
Sullivan, A.G. (2015). Writing GME goals and objectives: A toolkit. University of
Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics GME Office. Available at: https://www.uwhealth.
org/files/uwhealth/docs/pdf2/GME_Core_Toolkit.pdf. 1–7.
Wong, H. & Wong, R. (2011). Learning objectives: The heart of every lesson. Effective
Teaching. 1–11.
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