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The Secret of Successful Learning Objectives and Knowledge Checks

1 out of 3 learners says that uninspiring content is a barrier to learning. Unengaging learning content fails to stimulate learners’ brains and jeopardizes their learning experience. 

It’s vital that learners complete training programs that have clear goals. Clear learning objectives and low stakes knowledge checks can create more focused and effective learning and development (L&D) programs. Learning objectives and knowledge checks should typically have the following characteristics:

  • Learning Objectives — Concrete, relevant, and verifiable.
  • Knowledge Checks — Ungraded, low pressure, informal, and review and reinforce instead of assess. 

Learning objectives and knowledge checks are known for being used in eLearning, but did you know they can be used in other modalities?

Learning objectives help organizations set attainable goals and achieve exactly what their learning program set out to do. Knowledge checks align with learning goals and review learners’ understanding of content. Both are critical in ensuring learning programs are effective.

This article will define learning objectives and knowledge checks, explain their importance, and explore how you can create your own across different modalities.

Characteristics Of Powerful Learning Objectives

Developing learning objectives for your learning program is a critical step in helping your organization solve its business challenges. Learning objectives should be the first step in creating your learning courses because they give structure to a training program. 

Typically, learning objectives should be:

  • Concrete — Learning objectives need to be clear and concise. This way learners know what to expect.
  • Relevant — Learning objectives need to align with organizational values and long-term objectives that are relevant. 
  • Verifiable — Learning objectives need to be measurable through metrics. In most cases, objectives are set by leadership, then measured by instructional designers who transform them into measurements. These measurements determine if goals are met and the return on investment (ROI) is positive.

Learning objectives are created by setting goals tied to employee performance. When creating learning objectives, instructional designers should consider tangible ways that learners can show they’ve learned. The best learning objectives are centered around demonstrable skills, behaviors, and knowledge that fuel positive workplace performance results. Without goals, L&D programs have the potential to get off track, wasting time and resources.

If you’re ever stuck trying to figure out what learning objectives to set, you should ask yourself: 

  • What does success in this program look like?
  • How will we know if the learner has mastered the topic?

Examples Of Productive Learning Objectives

Regardless of the modality, learning objectives will be consistent with training goals and organizational needs. Below are two examples of potential learning objectives an organization may set.

  • Full VR for Emergency Safety Training — A full VR training program on safety may set a learning objective that ensures the learner demonstrates the proper steps in an emergency situation. 
  • AR for Product Knowledge Training — An AR program on product knowledge may set an objective that ensures learners can describe the features, benefits, and functionality  of a new line of products before working in the real world. 

Traits Of Effective Knowledge Checks

Once your learning objectives are set, it’s time to create knowledge checks that align with those learning objectives. Knowledge checks are tools used to help reinforce the material to aid with retention.

Knowledge checks typically have the following characteristics:

  • Ungraded
  • Low pressure on learners
  • Less formal than a quiz
  • Review instead of assess
  • Provide feedback after questions to reinforce learning

Knowledge checks can be as simple as confirming if learners have completed all of their modules or as complex as critically measuring how much of the material has been retained. Knowledge checks should be relevant, paced properly throughout a program, and presented clearly. Regardless of whether the learner’s answer was correct or incorrect, knowledge checks present learners with feedback addressing why they were right or wrong. 

Knowledge checks accomplish two things:

  • Help learners reflect on their comprehension and understanding of content — Knowledge checks give learners greater awareness of how well they’re doing in their course. 
  • Provide insight for facilitators regarding where learners are struggling — Knowledge checks help pinpoint exactly where learners need extra help in skill-building. 

Ultimately, knowledge checks ensure learners are getting the most out of the program. Knowledge checks provide learners with the opportunity to practice and reinforce information, leading to greater retention and ensuring the training investment was worthwhile. 

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Examples Of Effective Knowledge Checks

Knowledge checks can appear in several forms depending on the specific training program and modality it’s delivered through. 


In eLearning, knowledge checks typically appear in the form of on-screen questions and prompt learners to select the appropriate answer. Feedback is typically provided in a form where it either reinforces why the answer is correct or explains why the answer is incorrect. eLearning knowledge checks typically come in the form of matching, true/false, and multiple choice.  

360° VR

In 360° VR, knowledge checks are similar to those in eLearning. Knowledge checks for 360° VR are typically presented in the form of: 

  • Multiple Choice — Participants may be presented with a situation and provided multiple options on how to respond. Feedback is delivered with on-screen consequences playing out. For example, delivering a difficult or coaching conversation, or responding to a customer’s objections in a sales situation. 
  • Identify and Select — Participants may be asked to identify objects. For example, they may be asked to make on-screen selections regarding safety concerns or necessary tools to complete a task. Feedback in these types of scenarios may come in the form of voiceover combined with on-screen graphics. 

Full VR

In full VR, knowledge checks are presented in the form of taking action. Feedback is provided with the consequences (good or bad) playing out in the virtual environment. For example:

  • Driver safety — Learners may be driving in the virtual environment and if they don’t follow the appropriate guidelines, they may cause an accident. 
  • Loading/unloading or stacking boxes — If done incorrectly, the boxes may fall. 
  • POS Training — Learners are tasked with practicing ringing out a customer in a virtual environment. If done incorrectly, they may not be able to complete the transaction.
  • Identifying and fixing an issue with an item — Repairing a machine or fixing a flat tire. If done incorrectly, the machine doesn’t work or  the tire is still flat.

Are You Ready To Use Learning Objectives And Knowledge Checks?

In this article, we’ve defined learning objectives and knowledge checks, as well as examined examples across different modalities. As we’ve discovered, learning objectives and knowledge checks are custom to each training program.

Now, it’s time to ask yourself: “Are you ready to create new or revise current learning objectives and knowledge checks for your training program?” Get started designing your training program here, or check out more resources here.

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