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

Do Your Learning Objectives Match Strategies and Outcomes? by Jane Bozarth July 5, 2011 Column “Talking

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 effective eLearning.”

“The 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.

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The learning objectives of your program will drive the design. What are the desired performance 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 performance. “Academic” objectives, such as, “The participant will list, define, .” 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 definitions of terms.

The remaining climb up the ladder would include, in order, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and, finally, creating. (This is an extremely truncated explanation, meant as a quick reminder for those with a background with Bloom; I encourage those unfamiliar with his work to Google about for more.)

More than one kind of learning

Bloom further refined his thinking to include the concept of learning domains. He identified three: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. In the training vernacular we often 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 feel? What might look like a very straightforward topic could very well include all three domains.

Consider, for instance, a program on using fire extinguishers. You want the learners to know where the extinguisher is located as well as other basic fire-safety procedures. You want them to do by using the extinguisher correctly.And you want them to feel confident that they can handle this task without panicking.

Other topics may involve only one domain: learning to use a new office copier very similar to the old one may involve only the psychomotor domain, while using a very different model might touch the cognitive as well as the psychomotor domains. Leadership training may employ a good many strategies aimed at the cognitive and affective domains, but require little in the way of psychomotor skills.

Beyond the cognitive domain

A failing of many learning programs (and live training, too, in my experience) is focusing exclusively on the cognitive domain – see Table 1. It’s where we get hours and hours of lecture in the classroom, and screen after 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 effective eLearning.

 

Table 1. Matching Outcomes To Strategies

OUTCOME

SOME

RATIONALE

SPECIFICS

STRATEGIES

If you want …

Then try…

Because this will encourage…

(And here are some ideas; all can be done online)

Remembering

     

TextRecall Matching terms to definitions

RecallText Matching terms to definitions

Matching terms to definitionsText Recall

Listpresentation

presentation

Ordering in correct sequenceMatching terms to definitions List presentation Define Simple test Simple multiple-choice quiz Printable

DefineSimple test

Simple testDefine

Simple multiple-choice quizOrdering in correct sequence Define Simple test Printable worksheet List the four steps in defusing an

Printable worksheetsequence Define Simple test Simple multiple-choice quiz List the four steps in defusing an angry customer

List the four steps in defusing an angry customerSimple test Simple multiple-choice quiz Printable worksheet Given choices, correctly choose phrase most likely to defuse

Given choices, correctly choose phrase most likely to defuse angry customerworksheet List the four steps in defusing an angry customer Understanding       Restate Deeper

Understanding

     

RestateDeeper

DeeperRestate

Explain understanding

Explain

understanding

Predict  Connection  

 

ConnectionPredict    

 

Translatebetween Given choices, rank order phrases used to defuse angry customer, from most effective to

between

Given choices, rank order phrases used to defuse angry customer, from most effective to least effectiveTranslate between

Describeverbal

verbal

description

and behavior

 

Applying

     

PracticeExperiential Given simple scenario, utilize four- step process in defusing angry customer

ExperientialPractice Given simple scenario, utilize four- step process in defusing angry customer

Given simple scenario, utilize four- step process in defusing angry customerPractice Experiential

Solvelearning

learning

Determinestep process in defusing angry customer Solve learning Experiment Trial and error   Get a “feel”

ExperimentTrial and error  

Trial and errorExperiment  

 

Get a “feel” for itGiven brief description of angry customer, practice using defusing phrases in a skill practice or

Given brief description of angry customer, practice using defusing phrases in a skill practice or role playGet a “feel” for it

Analyzing

     

Taking itCareful Given complex scenario, break into component parts to identify underlying factors

CarefulTaking it Given complex scenario, break into component parts to identify underlying factors

Given complex scenario, break into component parts to identify underlying factorsTaking it Careful

Connectapart to see how it works examination

apart to see how it works

examination

of

Infer  complicated  

 

complicated

 

Isolatebehaviors Given “script” of unsuccessful customer interaction, identify phrases or words that made the situation

behaviors

Given “script” of unsuccessful customer interaction, identify phrases or words that made the situation worseIsolate behaviors

“precursors”

to end

results

Evaluating

     

StructuredConnect prior Given complex scenario, work to identify root of customer complaint and utilize four-step

Connect priorStructured Given complex scenario, work to identify root of customer complaint and utilize four-step process in

Given complex scenario, work to identify root of customer complaint and utilize four-step process in defusing customer’s angerStructured Connect prior

Debatecase studies experience to

case studies

experience to

new learning

ContrastWorked

WorkedContrast

examples

Facilitateexamples  

 

Distinguishtransfer

transfer

Compileexamples Facilitate   Distinguish transfer Pull together Accumulate Creating      

PullFacilitate   Distinguish transfer Compile together Accumulate Creating       Less

together

Accumulate  Distinguish transfer Compile Pull together Creating       Less Opportunity

Creating

     

LessOpportunity Given complex less-structured scenario, use four-step process to generate own effective response to angry

OpportunityLess Given complex less-structured scenario, use four-step process to generate own effective response to angry customer

Given complex less-structured scenario, use four-step process to generate own effective response to angry customerLess Opportunity

Judgestructured to self-

structured

to self-

case studies

correct

ChooseJudge structured to self- case studies correct course of Simulations Provide   action

course of

Simulationscourse of Provide  

Providecourse of Simulations  

 

action

practice

Encourage

Evaluatereflection

reflection

data

FacilitateChoose course of Simulations Provide   action practice Encourage Evaluate reflection data transfer

transfer

Some material adapted from Bozarth, J. (2008) Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging eLearning with PowerPoint. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.