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Canadian Public Health Association

Developing learning objectives

Learning objectives describe the skills, abilities and/or attitudes that a delegate will be able to accomplish at the end of the session. An objective is made up of three important elements:

  1. Define or describe an action.
  2. Are measurable, in terms of observable, behavioral outcomes for delegates.
  3. Are stated clearly.

The following guidelines are provided to assist in the development of appropriate learning objectives.

Step 1 Describe the information, skills, behaviors, or perspectives participants in the session will acquire through attendance and participation.

Step 2 Clearly identify the outcomes or actions participants can expect to demonstrate as a result of the educational experiences. See the action words below.

Step 3 Write the learning objectives that relate to these outcomes and that reflect the content of the session. 

  • Utilizes an effective, action verb that targets the desired level of performance.
  • Avoid using verbs that are difficult to measure – see list below.
Emphasis Recommended Verbs
Analyze analyze, classify, compare, contrast, detect, determine, differentiate, dissect, discover, discriminate, distinguish, estimate, examine, explore, interpret, investigate
Apply apply, classify, construct, demonstrate, explain, estimate, identify, illustrate, implement, instruct, interpret, perform, plan, predict, prepare
Create Arrange, assemble, combine, compose, create, establish, design, devise, develop, formulate, invent, manage, modify, organize, plan, prepare, produce, propose
Evaluate appraise, assess, criticize, defend, determine, estimate, evaluate, judge, justify, measure, predict, rank, rate, recommend, select, summarize, test, verify
Remember arrange, define, describe, distinguish, locate, identify, label, list, name, recall, recite, recognize, repeat, reproduce, state
Undertstand classify, compare, defend, describe, discuss, explain, identify, illustrate, indicate, interpret, review, summarize, transform, translate, conclude

Verbs to avoid

The following verbs are internal to the delegate and therefore difficult to assess and should not be used:

  • Accept
  • Appreciate
  • Comprehend
  • Cover
  • Familiarize
  • Gain knowledge of
  • Grasp
  • Learn
  • Know
  • Perceive
  • See
  • Study
  • Understand
  • Value