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What are Learning Objectives? Less Than 100 Words

Learning objectives specify what you want your employees to learn from a training program, including knowledge, skills, and behaviors. Learning and development professionals (L&D) set learning objectives at the beginning of a training project, often following a needs analysis. They use them as guideposts throughout the development process, ensuring the training meets their goals.

Naturally, learning objectives are integral to employee training evaluation. While completion rates and time per session are important training metrics, L&D teams must know if the training is impactful. One way to find out is to see if learners achieved the learning objectives. 

Why are Learning Objectives Important?

Clear learning objectives give structure to training development. Instructional designers can keep them top of mind throughout each phase, helping the project stay on track. Additionally, you can share the learning objectives with learners at the start of a course or training session. Doing so gives them an idea of what to expect and lets them approach the training aware of the desired outcome.

If L&D teams don’t define precise learning objectives at the beginning of a project, they risk:

  • Wasting time and money invested in the training’s development
  • Failing to prepare learners to do their jobs
  • Alienating employees with inadequate training

With 86% of employees claiming workplace training is vital, organizations must rise to the occasion by building sound training. Learning objectives help make that happen.   

How to Create Measurable Learning Objectives 

Because you eventually measure training success against learning objectives, organizations must make the latter measurable. That means setting goals tied to employee performance. Generally speaking, learning objectives should be: 

  • Concrete

  • Testable

  • Demonstrable

Learning objectives shouldn’t include vague aims like “learn our safety protocol” or “learn our products.” They also shouldn’t reiterate department performance goals, like “reduce the number of safety violations” or “increase our customer service ratings.” Instead, learning objectives should focus on employee behaviors that drive such results. 

Consider the tangible ways learners can show they learned your safety protocol or products. For example, organizations might choose the following learning objectives: 

  • Follow the steps of our emergency protocol
  • Explain the differences in our products

Those objectives require learners to take concrete actions. L&D professionals can test what they learned through observation, be it via written or online knowledge checks, formal practice, or on the job. The key is to craft learning objectives around demonstrable skills, behaviors, and knowledge that fuel the positive workplace results you seek.

Want to set up your employee training for sustained success? Check out our Guide to Establishing & Designing Effective Learning Objectives!

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