THE 4 PILLARS FOR WRITING YOUR LEARNING OBJECTIVES 

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You should always begin with the end in mind. What does that mean? In teaching and training it means having a distinct vision of the destination you want your students to reach in terms of their final goals and objectives.  

WHAT IS AN EFFECTIVE LEARNING OBJECTIVE? 

  • Is a specific, measurable, observable, and can be formulated in a short-term statement. 
  • Describes desired knowledge, skills, or attitudes that should be developed in students as a result of learning activities. 
  • Specifies the requirements and expectations for a course. 
  • Is related to course objectives, which are more general declarations that reflect course goals. 
  • Is a framework for assessing the understanding and development of students. 

HOW DO STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM LEARNING OBJECTIVES?  

Students benefit from learning objectives because they are able to easily understand what is asked of them. Learning objectives will help students to understand expectations, prepare for the course, and stay motivated.  

Well-written learning objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-oriented, and Time-bound (SMART) to provide students with a clear understanding of where they are going. 

  • Specific: Good learning objectives should be simple, and manageable. 
  • Measurable: Learning objectives, should assist instructors in determining how well students achieve the desired learning.  
  • Achievable: Given the students’ resources, timeframe, background, and readiness, objectives should be attainable and possible for participants to achieve. 
  • Result-oriented (Relevant): A good learning objective will describe the outcome; the knowledge, skills, or attitudes that students should have acquired,, while being observed by the instructor. 
  • Time-bound (Timely): Clearly state the timeline. This can assist you in determining how well the learners should perform in order to be considered competent.  

Learning objectives will primarily fit into one of these four pillars: 

1. Learning to know 

“It’s better to know how to learn than to know”  

Dr. Seuss

This pillar focuses on the process of learning. We must understand that learning is a “lifelong process;” as individuals, our main objective is to make sure that the student realizes, what he should know and at what level by the time the training is completed. 

Teachers should facilitate students’ abilities to process information that is readily available today and to develop skills and critical thinking to master information that they will encounter in the future. For example, “With this course, students will gain a better understanding of the Code of Ethics for legal interpreters.” 

2. Learning to do 

“To learn and not to do is really not to learn 
To know and not to do is really not to know” 

Stephen R. Covey

The focus of this pillar is on applying what is learned. Transferring what they have learned into real life situations will always motivate students. If students use their knowledge in their daily lives, they will recognize the benefit that knowledge can have. So, asking the following question is important in identifying our learning objectives: “What should a student be able to accomplish at the end of (and during) a course on Simultaneous Interpreting for healthcare interpreters?” 

So, it is expected of teachers to help students acquire the skills they will need to further realize their own potential and inform them about the potential end result should students apply what they learned. 

3. Learning how to follow the components of learning objectives: 

Audience: (the learners) Indicate who the target audience is. In most cases, these are the people who the training is intended for.  

Behavior: (performance) – What should the learner be able to do? It is important to make sure the behavior is seen or heard. For example, it is preferable to have an objective that says, “Participants will be able to apply remote interpreting techniques when interpreting at virtual conferences and other similar events.” 

Standard: How well must the learned behavior be done? This should respond to queries like “How many?” How quickly? How effectively? Standards might state things like “Within 1 month, participants will be able to provide sight translations of 1-2 page medical documents without any major errors.”

Condition: Under what conditions do learners demonstrate their mastery of the objective?  

These components, when combined successfully, work together to create learning objectives that are efficient. 

4. Learning to be – Believe 

“One of the main reasons people fail to reach their own potential is because they are unwilling to risk anything and believe in what they are doing.” 

Anonymous 

This pillar emphasizes a person’s overall development. What do you want your learner to believe at the end of the training? Do you want translators to improve their skills and boost their career? Gain a better comprehension of what the future of the language industry holds, thus envisioning their own career better? Etc. 

At the end of your course, you want the students to be able to learn, but you also want them to believe in something. What is that something? For example, “By the end of this four-chapter course, translators and interpreters will be provided with a comprehensive overview of the audio transcription as a service, so that they can adapt their language skills and consider offering transcription services to current and future clients.” 

How Do You Know if Learning Objectives Are Being Met?  

By outlining the intended results, learning objectives describe the desired effects of a learning experience. The effectiveness of a course can thus be determined by evaluating the learner’s mastery of the objectives. The most popular methods of evaluation include participant portfolios of ongoing projects, questionnaires, surveys, interviews, tests, and observations. A learning experience should include evaluation strategies, so that trainers and participants can determine whether the learning objectives have been met. 

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