Characteristics Of Training And Learning Goals And Objectives
Writing Goals and Objectives
One of the most important, yet for some, the most challenging activities in the training process is writing clear-cut, competency-based learning objectives that describe what the learner will be able to do at the end of the training session. Some trainers believe goals and objectives are the same things; not so. Let’s take a look.
What is a Goal?
A goal is nothing more than a wish. We’ve all stated goals like, “I wish I could lose some weight,” from time to time. Goals are broad in the sense that they state general intentions. They are not specific enough to be measured. Objectives, on the other hand, are narrow and are set for specific tasks in particular. There are two basic types of goals:
A training goal is a general statement about what the trainer wants to do. It states how the trainer will achieve the intended outcome of training. Instructor guides may state training goals, but student workbooks or handouts might not.
On the other hand, a learning goalis a general statement about what the trainer wants each student to know and/or do. It summarizes what the learner, not the trainer, will know or be able to do. Student workbooks or handouts would include learning goals.
What’s an Objective?
Objectives are much more specific than goals. They state observable, measurable outcomes – what we do and how well we do it.
A training objective is a specific statement describing what the trainer will do during or immediately after training. For instance, a training objective might state: “During the first hour of the training session, the trainer, given a full-face respirator, will discuss and perform each step of the respirator don-doff procedure.”
A learning objective is a specific statement describing what the learner will know and/or can do after training. It describes results rather than the means of achieving those results. It defines expectations for the learner. For example, a learning objective might state: “By the end of the class, each student, when given a full-face respirator, will be able to perform all steps of the don-doff procedure correctly.”
Writing learning objectives is required by ANSI Z490.1 guidelines when hazardous procedures and practices are taught. Virtually all technical safety training involves testing. Because companies must test employees, learning objectives are necessary to design specific training measures and standards.
Learn by Doing!
Once the objectives for the training are precisely stated, then learning activities can be identified and described. Remember, when OSHA uses the terms “demonstrate” in their standards, the intent is that employees must be able to prove they can do something by actually doing it in the learning environment. This means you’ll need to include a “hands-on” learning activity to show employees how to do things. It also means you’ll need to give them a chance to practice.