Writing SMART Learning Objectives
To be useful, learning objectives should be SMART:
Learning objectives focus your learning on specific areas each semester and can help you to maximize your time spent in this co-op assignment. Further, discussing your learning goals with your supervisor helps to ensure that you will spend your time productively during the term and that all parties involved are aware of the gains you are trying to achieve.
What are learning objectives?
- Learning objectives can fall into the following categories:
- Knowledge or Skills Acquisition: Knowledge or skills you hope to acquire on the job such as learning to use appropriate procedures, equipment, or methods.
- Personal/Professional: Skills you hope to apply or cultivate such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, working effectively with others, professional meeting/email/telephone etiquette, networking, written communication, relationships with supervisors, time management, organization, decision making, etc.
- Career Knowledge: Gaining new information regarding the company, the industry, or job duties.
- Other: Depending on the job, there may be additional categories of learning objectives. Consider your field of choice and the critical knowledge/skills you would like to obtain.
Steps to writing learning objectives
- For each objective, answer the following three questions:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- How are you going to accomplish it? (What steps will you take to accomplish your objective? What activities will you do? How will you acquire the learning? Under what conditions will the learning occur?)
- How you will measure your objective?(What evidence will you have to demonstrate that learning has taken place? What criteria will be used to evaluate your evidence? Who will do the evaluation?)
SMART learning objectives
In each case the same objective is stated in two different ways. In the "VAGUE" description, the objective is either too general or not sufficiently measurable. In the "SPECIFIC" example, the same objective has been stated SMARTly (in a manner that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, and Time-focused).
|Skills Acquisition||I will learn how to troubleshoot for my company.||By December 15th, I will be able to troubleshoot word processing software, including WordPerfect and Microsoft Word over the telephone with less than 3% error rate.|
|Skills Acquisition||I will evaluate the effectiveness of my company‘s advertising.||By March 15th, I will develop, duplicate, distribute, pick up, evaluate, and report on a customer survey relating to my company‘s advertising.|
|Knowledge Acquisition||I would like to know more about the chemical make-up of common drugs used in the hospital.||By mid-term, I will list the 40 common medications I observe being used by referring to patients‘ charts, then research their chemical composition, and record this data on my list.|
|Personal / Professional||I want to learn how to deal with irritable customers.||I will develop four different cheerful conversation techniques and briefly describe each in a notebook. I will record reactions of customers to these techniques and report by May 28.|
|Career Knowledge||I want to better understand the printing industry.||By the end of the term, I will have interviewed someone who has been in the printing industry at least 4 years and ask them about typical career paths, job duties, professional associations, and ways to advance one‘s career in this industry.|
|Skills Acquisition||I want to assist some children to learn a new skill.||By mid-term, I will have taught a group of 10 children ball throwing athletic skills. The children will demonstrate their skills by achieving at least a minimum score which I will determine as a proficiency level.|
Adapted from "Developing Effective Learning Objectives." Kansas State University Career and Employment Services.