I. Course Design Principles > A. Organization and Course Design

I.A.2. Each learning module begins with a specification of observable learning objectives for that

Values Supported



Measurable learning objectives are the framework upon which your class will be based. The learning objectives should precisely describe what students are to learn during a module, which in turn will inform the choice of instructional materials, activities, and assessments. When the instructor focuses on desired observable outcomes, the instructor is better able to identify gaps in student preparedness for the course, and therefore to identify or develop supplementary resources to enable those with weaker preparation to meet the desired objectives.

This element supports Alignment, because it helps ensure that course materials and objectives are internally consistent. Readings and assessments will be chosen to support the stated learning objectives.

This element also supports Transparency because it communicates to students the instructor’s desired outcomes for the course.


Learning objectives should be observable and directly measurable. If your objective is not directly measurable because it refers to an internal state (e.g. understand, appreciate), consider the evidence you will need to demonstrate that your students have achieved your objective. This behavioral evidence will help frame your objective. For example, rather than stating that a student will understand a concept, indicate that the student will be able to explain or articulate the concept.

Examples of measurable objectives:
  • Identify systematic bias in web pages found using an ordinary search engine (e.g. Google, Yahoo)
  • Explain the difference between a variable name and its value.


Bloom’s taxonomy is a good resource for writing learning objectives. Learning objectives should represent varying levels of abstraction or complexity, and may refer to the cognitive, affective, or psychomotor domains as appropriate to the course.

See: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

More recently, Andrew Churches has revised Bloom's taxonomy for the digital age. He maintains a Web site and offers his study in a PDF document.
For the PDF document: