As a training professional for more than 25 years, I’ve seen how a robust needs analysis can reveals obvious performance gaps. The problem becomes how to fill them in a timely way. Closing gaps requires articulating exactly what’s currently wrong in the workplace. If you can construct clear statements about what people need to be able to do, then you can locate or develop materials to support their development. You can also present them these learning objective statements to stakeholders, such as managers and supervisors. You may even want to review your learning objectives with potential students, as well. Good learning objectives typically lead to the development of better instructional materials, tests and general outcomes.
By creating a spreadsheet, you can list the critical elements of a exceptional learning objective. Essentially, you want to have sentences that define what skill or knowledge area the objective addresses and what behaviors exemplify superior performance. To write these learning objectives, use action verbs.
- In the first column of your spreadsheet, indicate the skill or knowledge area. You can later alphabetize this list or rank them in terms of priority.
- Next, list the operational metrics that indicate a training intervention is required. For example, if your business consistently loses deals, you may need to evaluate your customer satisfaction and loyalty. Track and monitoring this measures help you identify if your training programs work or if other actions are required.
- Describe your learning program. The decision about what to produce may be related to when you need it. The length of time required to develop training programs varies considerably depending on the format type. For example, it can take about 20 hours to develop one hour of instructor-led training. It might take more than 100 hours to develop interactive electronic learning.
- In the fourth column, list the ways you will evaluate learning outcomes, such as a multiple-choice exam, observation on the job or follow-up survey.
- Use the fifth column to indicate a priority. Later, you can potentially sort this spreadsheet into a prioritized list of learning objectives.
- In the six column, indicate your primary audience, typically a job title.
With this information, you can generate clear learning objectives. With this information, students can decide whether or not to sign up for a course and managers can approve the time required to attend training based on the proposed outcomes. Writing clear, concise and easily understandable objectives helps everyone involved in the training and development process.