1. Check with your Dept. Chair and/or Dean
to find out if learning objectives have already been defined
for the course. If so, use that list for this step. If objectives
have not been established, answer for yourself the question,
"What should students be able to do at the end of the course?"
By the end of the course you will be able
2. Craft your statements or refine the institutional
statements (if allowed) about what students should be able to
do at the end of the course by using action verbs (understand
and know are not action verbs; see the tables of
verbs above for ideas).
Check for concreteness. Phrases like develop
appreciation and become aware, refer to the
internal state of the learner and need to be replaced with more
concrete verbs indicating demonstrable achievement.
An often-used structure for learning objectives
is Audience-Behavior-Condition-DegreeA-B-C-Da mnemonic
device to remember the things to include in a learning objective
- Identify the Audience:
who is going to be doing the action? In your
case, it will be the students, and your use of informal tone
in your syllabus means youll say, By the end of
the course, you will be able to . . .
- Identify the Behavior
students will exhibit as evidence of achievement of competency
in the learning objective (e.g., will set up a video
camera and obtain a test pattern feed).
- Identify the Conditions
under which students will operate as they demonstrate their
achievement of the objective (e.g., given ten minutes
preparation time to prepare a 2-minute talk about a topic
with which you are familiar).
- Identify the Degree to
which students must perform in order to demonstrate competence
(e.g., with 70% accuracy).
you will find an enjoyable tutorial on the
A-B-C-D approach to wording learning objectives. In keeping
with our comments about the best tone for your syllabus, using
you for the Audience section of A-B-C-D
is the best choice.
Create your list of objectives now. If the
learning objectives for the course have already been established
by your institution, you still have the option of including
a list of enabling objectives in your syllabus. Write
those now using the A-B-C-D approach.
Examples of action verbs:
3. Discuss your list with your colleagues,
especially with faculty who teach or have taught the same course.
Consider their feedback and adjust your list, if necessary.
An additional source of Information for
completing this step Is http://www.utexas.edu/world/lecture,
a web site where you can browse by subject through thousands
of college syllabi posted to the web. Look at the learning objectives
listed In those syllabi for courses similar to yours. (Caution:
you will find notoriously non-learning-centered syllabi among
the examples there. Use this opportunity to discern among the
good, the bad, and the ugly.)
Adjusted, edited list