In Part Two of this series, we discussed learner objectives. Theses are statements of intent you provide learners so they understand what they need to know by the end of the lesson. Now, let’s look at lesson objectives, which are the objectives you write for yourself as you start designing your course.

When you begin drafting content, you start with lesson objectives. Lesson objectives should answer the question, “What should learners be able to do at the end of this lesson?” Every activity in a lesson should align directly to a lesson objective, and objectives should be grouped by topic and sequenced in difficulty. This is called chunking, and it is shown to reduce cognitive load, or the strain on a person’s working memory.

Next, consider how you will measure those objectives. In other words, how will you know that your lesson has been successful? Tasks which measure lesson objectives should also be grouped into similar topics and should go up in difficulty as the learner progresses through the lessons.

Determining your objectives

Writing lesson objectives isn’t difficult. Simply ask yourself what learners need to know when they have completed the lesson, and write this down as a single statement. This is the ultimate goal of the lesson, and you’ll work backwards from here, breaking down the individual concepts learners must understand to meet the objective.

For example, by the end of a lesson you want your learners to be able to explain a new feature of your product. This is training that will benefit your sales and customer success teams, and by the end of the lesson learners should know how to demonstrate the new feature and explain its benefits. You might write an objective like this:

“By the end of this lesson, you will be able to explain the benefits of [our new feature] and demonstrate how to use it.”

Now work backwards from this statement to determine the individual teaching elements required to achieve this goal. You want learners to be able to describe the benefits, so you might do two things: (1) describe any pain points with the previous version of the product, and (2) describe how the new feature improves your user experience. You may also include some specific ways in which your learners should frame these benefits when talking to customers, if necessary.

Then, you want learners to be able to demonstrate how the new feature works. This might be as simple as considering the steps necessary to access and use the feature, then breaking that down into a step-by-step guide for your learners. And again, if you have a specific script you want your team to use during demos, you can include that here.

While it will probably be easy to figure out your learning objectives, if you are ever find yourself having trouble consider these four things:

  1. Audience – Who is this lesson for?
  2. Behavior – What skill or task would you like the learner to perform or improve?
  3. Condition – Under what conditions will the learning occur?
  4. Degree – What degree of mastery do you expect?

Once you know the answers to these four questions, you should be able define your lesson objectives.

Get more tips for defining and writing lesson objectives.

Assessing lesson objectives

Next, you need to determine that your teams actually learned the material. This means your lesson objectives must be measurable. To do this, your assessments need to align with your objectives. With the new feature training example, you need to determine that learners can describe the new feature benefits and demonstrate how the new feature works.

You want to test learners on their ability to recall the information in a way that mirrors how they will present it in the real world. First, you might use a free response exercise that requires each learner to describe the new feature in their own words to ensure they understand the benefits. Next, if you have some specific keywords or phrases that your team should use, a categorization exercise can direct learners to select the proper phrases or terms and sort them from incorrect phrases.

To test the ability to demonstrate your new product feature, you might use an ordering exercise to ensure that everyone is familiar with the correct steps to show off the new feature properly. Or again, you can use a free response exercise and have learners list the steps in order.

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