How to Write Student Learning Objectives

Additional Resources

From Ball State University Getting Started
Before writing or revising departmental goals/objectives, you might try a few of the following.

  • Have some open discussion sessions on one of the following topics or something similar.
    • Describe the ideal student in your program at various phases throughout your program. Be concrete and focus on those strengths, skills, and values that you feel are the result of, or at least supported and nurtured by, the program experience. Then ask:
      • What does this student know?
      • What can this student do?
      • What does this student care about?
    • List and briefly describe the program experiences that contribute most to the development of the ideal student.
    • List the achievements you implicitly expect of graduates in each major field?
    • Describe your alumni in terms of such achievements as career accomplishments, lifestyles, citizenship activities, and aesthetic and intellectual involvement?
  • Collect and review instructional materials. Try sorting materials into 3 broad categories: recognition/recall, comprehension/simple application, critical thinking/problem-solving. Use any of the following:
    • syllabi and course outlines
    • course assignments and tests
    • textbooks (especially the tables of contents, introductions, and summaries)
  • Collect and review documents that describe your department and its programs:
    • brochures and catalogue descriptions
    • accreditation reports
    • curriculum committee reports
    • mission statements
  • Review and react to goals and objectives from another unit that is similar but external
    (ex. another department or college in the Mid-American Conference). Try grouping the statements into broad categories of student outcomes (i.e., knowledge, attitudinal, behavioral).
  • Use the 25 percent problem to refine or reduce a set of goal statements. Imagine that you want to reduce program or course material by 25 percent. What goals would you keep and which would you discard?
  • Administer a goals inventory or conduct an interview study. Involve a variety of groups (or "stakeholders") when possible.
  • Use a Delphi technique or a modification. This involves administering a series of related questionnaires in which information from the initial form is provided so that respondents can use it to revise their responses on subsequent forms. The objective is to develop consensus before writing goals or objectives.
  • Shaping Department Goals and Objectives for Assessment – Definitions, Q&A, Getting Started with writing learning outcomes.

Source: The information above was derived from information presented on the Ball State University's Web site, which was accessed in the summer of 2005.