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Writing well constructed learning objective

Objectives can be used to convey expectations to your students. An objective is useful when it indicates what the learner should be able to do after instruction.

Mager’s Three Component Objectives

According to Mager, a good learning objectives should contain 3 components: a description of the performance required, the conditions surrounding the performance and a criteria statement so that what constitutes a good performance is understood.

Performance: what the learner will have accomplished.

Be able to write a product profile

Conditions: the conditions, under which the learner will demonstrate mastery of the objective

Given all available engineering data regarding a proposed product

Criteria: the quality or level of performance considered acceptable

The profile must describe and define all of the commercial characteristics of the product appropriate to its introduction to the market, including descriptions of at least three major product uses

Gagne’s Five Component Objectives:

  1. The situation of the performance
  2. The type of learning
  3. The content or object of the performance
  4. The observable or measurable part of the performance
  5. Any special conditions or constraints for the performance


Gagne’s five component learning objectives always contain what is known as a Learned Capability Verb (LCV). Examples of LCV include: discriminates, identifies, classifies, demonstrates, generates, adopts, states, executes and chooses.


Examples of Gagne Objectives from “Principles of Instructional Design”

Given three pictures, two the same and one different, the learner can discriminate the picture that is different by point at it.

Given a set of 10 radiographic images of the abdomen, the learner identifies the Gall Blader by circling it with a wax pencil.


Checklist for Writing Objectives

  1. Start each objective will a verb.
  2. Use only one action verb per objective.
  3. Avoid vague, hard to measure verbs like know or understand.
  4. Ensure that outcomes are observable and measurable.
  5. Write objectives in terms of what the learner should do


Best Resources for Learning More:

  • Preparing Objectives for Instruction by Mager
  • Principal of Instruction Design by Gagne and others.


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