Set The Right Tone For Your Course
When drafting the core content of an online or offline course, the first step is always to state the course objectives. These are clear and concise statements that define what your students can expect to learn or achieve after completing the course. Course objectives are designed to guide the course development process, ensuring that the learning goals are met effectively. And, while course objectives and goals form just a tiny part of your entire course, they are, nevertheless, foundational to your student’s success and the success of your course. In this article, I’ll lay out how to develop effective course objectives for any type of learning experience. We’ll look at why they matter and their effect on your students’ growth.
Why Course Objectives Matter
Learning is often overwhelming for students, whether they’ve been in academia for a long time or are just starting out. Depending on what subject you teach, you might find students and participants who are experts in their own fields, have long-term experience in some area, or even run businesses and work as CEOs. The point is that your course needs to do more than induce people to learn for the sake of learning. Your course needs to:
- Create context for your course material and build a roadmap of everything that will be covered.
- Link the learning material to specific goals and outcomes.
- Indicate the value of your course or program through the objectives.
- Provide a way for students to measure their progress and more.
- Create a limited scope for your course material, allowing you to offer more services or courses for higher-level information.
Course objectives allow your students to gain clarity on the scope of their learning and provide a framework that they can refer back to whenever they need. They also help you as an instructor because it helps make your course more focused, organized, and conducive to learning. In short, this small but critical part of your offline or online program will set the tone for the entire course. Well-defined course objectives can motivate both the educator and the student and even acts as a critical marketing message for anyone seeking to invest in your classes.
7 Best Practices For Writing Course Objectives
Effective course objectives are concise, specific, moderately descriptive, meaningful, and even time-bound. Let’s expand on these qualities and look at practical ways to make your learning or course objectives useful.
1. State Your Course Objectives At The Very Beginning
The practice of beginning with your objectives and goals is helpful as it serves to introduce the context of the course at a glance. You should always add course objectives to your content, even if it appears that such goals are obvious. Having them written and documented objects helps students get an immediate sense of what the course is about and helps you keep your content focused. They’re the perfect launching pad for the rest of your course content.
2. Constantly Link Your Content To Your Objectives
It’s important that you continue to link your objectives to course content throughout the program. You can do this by incorporating elements of reviews, quizzes , or other assessment tools that ensure your objectives are frequently revisited. Also, every time you finish a section, chapter, or unit, remind participants of the objective that was addressed. This will help them to understand how the content connects to their goals and what they should have learned from the section.
3. Make Your Objectives Concise
Your objectives should be clear, concise, and direct. Avoid lengthy objectives, such as long and complex sentences or paragraphs, when drawing them up. You want your users or students to understand your course objectives at a glance, so be sure to keep them simple and to the point.
4. Keep Your Objectives Realistic
Let’s say you teach a course on public speaking. Instead of promising that your students will never get stage fright again, share that they’ll learn how to manage their fear and view the audience as a neutral witness instead of an intimidating entity. It’s always best to set realistic expectations and objectives so that your students don’t become discouraged or frustrated if they’re unable to accomplish what the objectives set out to achieve. Realistic objectives also make people trust you more and give your instructions a real try.
5. Create Specific Objectives
When writing your objectives, be sure to set specific goals. For instance, instead of telling students that they’ll learn about graphic design, inform them that they’ll learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator to create logos and illustrations. Wherever possible, use numbers to quantify the scope of your objectives. For example, you could tell students that they’ll learn how to create nine new logo templates from scratch in Photoshop. By keeping your objectives specific, you’ll make it easier for students to evaluate their progress and understand the scope of the course or program.
6. Balance Descriptiveness With Conciseness
I’ve mentioned that course objectives need to be short and sweet. But they also have to provide enough information to convey just what students will learn. It’s important to strike a balance between being descriptive and concise when defining your objectives. For instance, instead of telling participants that they’ll learn about persuasive writing (sounds general), you could say that the course will introduce them to rhetorical techniques and the fundamentals of argument construction (descriptive and specific). Or, instead of saying that your students will become better writers (general), you might state that they’ll improve their narrative writing skills  by studying classic texts in your course (specific). By balancing descriptiveness with conciseness, you’ll ensure that your objectives are accurate and informative without being too heavy.
7. Revisit Your Objectives At The End Of The Course
At the end of your course or program, revisit your objectives as a natural way to conclude your work. This will give you the chance to summarize everything that participants have learned and how they may have grown—and it’ll also make them feel like they accomplished something. It’s also a great way to offer additional resources, such as suggested reading or further courses, that could build on their newfound knowledge. By taking the time to reflect on all of the goals that were set out at the beginning, you’ll be able to show participants how much they’ve gained from your course.
Well-crafted course objectives serve as a guiding light for the assessment process. They act as a standard by which student performance can be measured and evaluated, ensuring that students have met the intended learning outcomes at the end of the course. In this way, objectives provide a microcosmic representation of the course, which enables you and your students to meet the course learning goals. Overall, creating meaningful course objectives is an essential step in the course-creation process. With the tips I’ve shared here, you’ll be able to craft course objectives that create the best outcomes.