Learning objectives need to be clearly defined to be accurate and efficient. When creating learning objectives, there are certain criteria one needs to adhere to, in order to ensure that they are SMART Learning Objectives. SMART is an acronym in the learning and development circles. It stands for 5 different criteria that help determine the efficiency of your learning objective and let you know if they are good enough.
As per the Smart Learning Objectives method, your learning objectives should be:
Specific – Make sure to use clear and direct language. This makes it easier to communicate to the learner and let them know what exactly he or she should learn. It must also give them a clear idea about the things he or she should be able to do once the training is successfully completed. One should not be vague, misleading, or unclear.
Measurable – When you set learning objectives, the basic aim is to determine if it is possible for the learners to meet, perform, or satisfy it. This is possible only if the objective is measurable. So, the first thing is that it needs to be an action you could observe. Here is where you correct the common mistake of using words which signify actions that could not be observed objectively. Examples are words like “know” and “understand”. Secondly, the objective must be written in a way so that the objective observer is able to closely watch the performance of the learner and come to a consensus about the fulfilment of the objective. One thing you need to note is that the learning objective should not be one that could be satisfied only by an individual’s own subjective understanding.
Achievable – The smart learning objective needs to be something that the learners stand a chance to complete or satisfy. Enough pre-existing knowledge, resources, and time are the pre requisites for all objectives. As an example, do not create learning objective that is defined for and elementary school kid to construct a rocket in a day. This is not achievable. While checking your objective for this criterion, keep in mind that it should not be too simple or easy too.
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Relevant – The learning objective must be one in which the learner is able to see the value in learning. Teach something that is not important or will not be used by a specific learner. The training should matter to the learners. It must be relevant and not something they will never need at all. Otherwise, it would be simple waste of time and nothing else.
Timely and Time-bound – The learning objective needs to be something that the learner will use in a timely fashion. It needs to be something close like next day or next week and not the next year. Second thing, you must explain if there are time constraints on the performance of the learner. There are many cases in which the learner needs to complete the objective once the training ends, for example. The last thing is that the learner may have to perform an action that is defined in the objective in the given amount of time, like say for example “change the oil in just 10 minutes.”
The SMART Learning Objectives method helps one check their own work while the objectives are being created. It helps maintain focus on the building up of a useful objective and is also like a quick checklist to determine how effective the objective is. Start using it and see the difference it could bring to the overall learning programme.