Types of Learning Objectives

Nicole Boswell
May 13, 2020

When you begin to write a course, or a training, the first thing to determine is “what is the end goal?” Writing measurable learning objectives can seem daunting, but if broken down correctly can achieve great results. Sometimes the most difficult part of writing objectives is deciding what success looks like. If you are writing objectives for a course or a training, what do you want the employees or students to achieve after completing the course? If you are not sure about your end goal, it will be much more difficult. If you are getting to the assessment portion of your course and are not sure what to include, it is likely you did not have clear enough objectives. Having clearly defined learning objectives can help your learner to feel more comfortable and enthusiastic.

What is Learning Objective?

A learning objective is not a list of what is being covered in a particular course or training.
It is a clearly defined objective of what learners will know, do, or feel after taking the course.

Do not start developing training without asking yourself: What does the learner need to know, do, and feel in order for this learning to be successful?

There are three types of learning objectives:

1: Educational Objectives

The first is educational. An educational objective is one that changes the learner’s knowledge. Some examples of this type of objective would include: describe the difference(s) between A and B, compare this situation to that situation, and list the process in order.

These objectives should contain a strong academic skill in them. Saying that the learner should “understand” is too vague.

To get to the educational learning objective, you could ask:

What skills will the learner be able to exhibit?

How will the learner demonstrate that skill?

In what context will they demonstrate the skill?

What criteria will indicate the student has learned the skill are all steps to include in the learning objectives?

2: Training Objectives

The next group of learning objectives is training. An organization’s goals should align with their objectives and therefore their training. How will a particular training help you achieve your goals?

A training objective should be as concise and specific as possible and have a goal of changing the learner’s behavior. These types of learning objectives should also include a measurable action verb and contain a relevant and specific goal.

It is also important to set realistic training goals and objectives. If there is a high number of failures on an assessment, then the objectives are probably not clear enough. You want your employees to be challenged, but not discouraged by the training.

Some examples of training objectives might include:

Perform this transaction in under 60 seconds

Overcome these 3 objections when selling this product to a client

Greet customers with a smile, every time.

3: Attitude Objectives

The third group of learning objectives are attitude based. Attitude includes someone’s beliefs or values about something and how they deal with issues in their lives. This can often be the most difficult objective to develop since people’s attitudes are often formed after a long period of time.

It can be very difficult to determine if a person’s attitude change is due to learning and training, or just due to time and their environment.

Often your training will need a combination of any of the three types of objectives: educational,training, or attitude.


Never skip the step of identifying successful objectives prior to developing training or learning.  Avoid the temptation of making a list of what the training will cover. This is NOT a learning objective, and often leads to unproductive training with boring and unnecessary content. By setting clear objectives you will create more targeted training, better be able to define success, and show the ROI of your training efforts. Take pride in your training by identifying exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

About the Author

Nicole Boswell

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