A learning objective simply states the behavior orknowledge change you would like to see from a learner. An objective is the final outcome desired from a learning event. Objectives need to be stated in a manner that is easily understood and measured by the designers and deliverers of the training.
While objectives can be stated and developed using a variety of techniques, one of the most effective methods is to state an objective using the ABCD format The ABCD format is an acronym representing the words, audience, behavior, condition, and degree. Objectives written in this format are specific and measurable.
Audience: The audience is the group of individuals who are targeted for instruction. While at first this seems straight forward, many times employees will ask “will I get anything out of this training?” or “should I attend this training?” or “who is supposed to go to this training?” Without a clear-cut audience in mind, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who gains from the training and who would be better served in a different class. Knowing the intended audiences is useful for the training developers; they need to understand the knowledge levels and aptitudes that must be accommodated in the training.
Behavior: The behavior element of the objective indicates the desired outcome of the particular learning event. The behavior will be stated in the following form “will be able to detail properly” or “will be able to discuss the mechanism of action (MOA) with the doctor.” The behavior is what you want the person to be able to do as a result of the training. It is important to clarify the behavior because training programs can get off track when the desired outcome of the training activity is not clearly defined. A behavior like “understand how to sell a product” is not effective because “understanding” is difficult to measure. You want something more concrete such as “be able to describe four methods for overcoming objections.”
Condition: The term “condition” describes circumstances under which the behavior should occur. An example would be “when calling on a doctor,” or “upon hearing that the doctor is using a competitor’s product.” The condition describes a trigger for the desired behavior.
Degree: The term “degree” represents how well the employee must perform to be considered acceptable. The degree of the objective is the measurable component. Measures can be expressed as level of productivity, quantity, quality, time, internal or external customer requirements, or other criteria gained from actual or anticipated work practices.
Here are two examples:
- A customer service representative, when receiving an incoming phone order from a customer, will correctly identify the needs of the customer and record the information into the automated order entry system with zero clerical or typographical errors.
- The LMS team leader, when faced with a decision regarding prioritization of tasks for the LMS implementation, will correctly select the proper priority sequence as compared to a list developed by a panel of LMS implementation consultants.
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