Part 2 – about the importance of objectives

So lets have a look at some objective verbs and see if you can distinguish the good ones from the bad ones.

Describe

List

Be aware of

Compare

Name

Appreciate

Define

Outline

Believe

Depict

Recite

Know

Describe

Recount

Understand

Explain

Relate

Capable of

Itemise

Select

Comprehend

Express

Specify

Familiar with

Memorise

Have knowledge of

Now have a look to see if you were right.

Good

Not so Good

Describe

List

Be aware of

Compare

Name

Appreciate

Define

Outline

Believe

Depict

Recite

Know

Describe

Recount

Understand

Explain

Relate

Capable of

Itemise

Select

Comprehend

Express

Specify

Familiar with

Memorise

Have knowledge of

Also consider these 3 things: (by Dr Robert Mager)

Performance: what do the learners have to be able to do?

Conditions: under what conditions (role play, open book, without reference to notes)

Standard: how well? (90% pass rate, without errors etc)

Ok so we can now make a stab at writing some robust objectives

Get better at time management List some activities that you will engage in to improve your time keeping by ……
Learn how to use the overlocking machine Sew a 20 inch seam using an over locking machine so that the seam conforms to our QA standards
Understand the principles of customer service Describe the 7 principles of Customer Excellence without reference to notes
Be able to give a presentation Deliver an engaging presentation with a variety of different visuals using [
Be able to close a customers bank account Demonstrate in a simulated environment how to close a customer’s bank account with no errors.

So once we have written the business focussed objectives – is this really enough?

Going back to our example of the customer excellence programme, what if all the participants want to know is how to achieve their objectives so they get their bonus every month? How does that fit in? What if in addition, their manager has sent them on the course? Will they be fully engaged? What if we ask for their objectives either beforehand or at the beginning of the first day? What effect will that have on them?

Now some of the objectives may not be achievable in the time given, in which case, you can point them in the right direction or follow up, whatever is appropriate.

The very act of asking them want they want to get out of it, will set an expectation, so do not do this lightly! Do not do this if you cannot follow through. If you can do this beforehand, it is easier to manage, because then you can also set expectations. You can also see how the business, learning and learner objectives can tie in together and cover this off in the “why this workshop will benefit you” section – giving a joint view of how everyone wins by completing this learning.

So having decided that you will collect learner objectives, I have done this in a couple of different ways:

  • In the joining instructions invite them to reply back or link to Survey monkey, but always explain the importance of sharing these and why you are doing this
  • On the morning, have a flipchart with some learner objectives already on and ask the remainder to add to these – give them pens to be able to.
  • You could give each person a post-it to fill out

Once you have learner objectives, you can use them in a number of ways:

  • Introduce extra discussions
  • Tie in to show how they relate to the objectives that are already there

If writing objectives were an Olympic sport I would be aiming for a medal position. Being a self-confessed anorak in this area, I do not apologise for picking people up on using the word “understand” when writing objectives. I do hope though that this blog has given you an insight into the importance of objectives, when designing training for an organisation and will help some way to writing better ones!

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