le arningso lut io nsm ag.co m http://www.learningso lutio nsmag.

co m/articles/710/nuts-and-bo lts-do -yo ur-learning-o bjectives-match-strategies-and-o utco mes

Nuts and Bolts: Do Your Learning Objectives Match Strategies and Outcomes?

by Jane Bozarth July 5, 2011 Column “Talking is easy. Presenting bullet points is easy. Figuring out how to reach the other domains – to provide psychomotor practice or to elicit an emotional response – is your challenge in developing ef f ective eLearning.” “T he problem with most learning objectives is that they tend not to relate to anything anyone will actually be able to do in this world.” Roger Schank, Lessons in Training, Learning, and eLearning. Editor’s Note: Parts of this article may not format well on smartphones and smaller mobile devices. We recommend viewing on larger screens. T he learning objectives of your program will drive the design. What are the desired perf ormance outcomes? It can be hard to keep these in sight when caught up in designing. And it can be challenging to develop objectives that support real-world perf ormance. “Academic” objectives, such as, “T he participant will list, def ine, describe. . .” are easy to write, and they’re easy to teach to (lecture, bulleted slides), and they’re easy to test (matching, multiple choice). But is any learning taking place that will be of any use in the workplace? I’ve never had a boss ask me to “list” anything.

Bloom’s Taxonomy
I’m guessing that readers involved in training and instructional design have at least a passing knowledge of Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of objectives, which describes learning in terms of level of abstraction. If you envision Bloom’s ideas as a ladder moving up through levels of sophistication, the lowest level, remembering, addresses only recall and provides training that asks learners to do little more than recite a series of steps in a process or memorize some def initions of terms. T he remaining climb up the ladder would include, in order, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and, f inally, creating. (T his is an extremely truncated explanation, meant as a quick reminder f or those with a background with Bloom; I encourage those unf amiliar with his work to Google about f or more.)

More than one kind of learning
Bloom f urther ref ined his thinking to include the concept of learning domains. He identif ied three: cognitive, psychomotor, and af f ective. In the training vernacular we of ten restate this in terms of objectives: What do you want learners to know? What do you want them to do? And how do you want them to f eel? What might look like a very straightf orward topic could very well include all three domains. Consider, f or instance, a program on using f ire extinguishers. You want the learners to know where the extinguisher is located as well as other basic f ire-saf ety procedures. You want them to do by using the extinguisher correctly. And you want them to feel conf ident that they can handle this task without panicking. Other topics may involve only one domain: learning to use a new of f ice copier very similar to the old one may involve only the psychomotor domain, while using a very dif f erent model might touch the cognitive as well as the psychomotor domains. Leadership training may employ a good many strategies aimed at the cognitive and af f ective domains, but require little in the way of psychomotor skills.

Beyond the cognitive domain
A f ailing of many learning programs (and live training, too, in my experience) is f ocusing exclusively on the cognitive domain – see Table 1. It’s where we get hours and hours of lecture in the classroom, and screen af ter screen of content online. Again: talking is easy. Presenting bullet points is easy. Figuring out how to reach the other domains – to provide psychomotor practice or to elicit an emotional response – is your challenge in developing ef f ective eLearning. Table 1. Matching Outcomes To Strategies OUT COME If you want … Remembering List Def ine SOME ST RAT EGIES T hen try… RAT IONALE Because this will encourage… Recall SPECIFICS (And here are some ideas; all can be done online) Matching terms to def initions Ordering in correct sequence Simple multiple-choice quiz Printable worksheet List the f our steps in def using an angry customer Given choices, correctly choose phrase most likely to def use angry customer Understanding Explain

Text presentation Simple test


Deeper understanding

Predict Describe


Connection between verbal description and behavior

customer Given choices, rank order phrases used to def use angry customer, f rom most ef f ective to least ef f ective

Applying Solve Experiment

Practice Determine Get a “f eel” f or it

Experiential learning Trial and error

Given simple scenario, utilize f ourstep process in def using angry customer Given brief description of angry customer, practice using def using phrases in a skill practice or role play

Analyzing Connect Inf er

Taking it apart to see how it works Isolate “precursors” to end results

Caref ul examination of complicated behaviors

Given complex scenario, break into component parts to identif y underlying f actors Given “script” of unsuccessf ul customer interaction, identif y phrases or words that made the situation worse

Evaluating Debate Contrast Distinguish Compile Pull together Accumulate Creating Judge Choose course of action Evaluate data

Structured case studies Worked examples

Connect prior experience to new learning Facilitate transf er

Given complex scenario, work to identif y root of customer complaint and utilize f our-step process in def using customer’s anger

Less structured case studies Simulations

Opportunity to self correct Provide practice Encourage ref lection Facilitate transf er

Given complex less-structured scenario, use f our-step process to generate own ef f ective response to angry customer

Some material adapted f rom Bozarth, J. (2008) Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging eLearning with PowerPoint. San Francisco: Pf eif f er.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer: Get 4 months of Scribd and The New York Times for just $1.87 per week!

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times