UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

Episode 1: Identifying effective goals and objectives transcript

P: Hi, and welcome to Instructional Excellence, with your hosts, Peter and Jan! We’re talking about some of the questions and issues we hear frequently in our work with course developers and instructors. And here’s today’s question:

P: “My instructional designer asked me to write learning objectives for my course. She said objectives are supposed to identify new skills people should learn in this class.  Well, I wrote nine objectives, and I though they pretty much covered everything I think students need to know about this field.

P: But the instructional designer sent them back. She said we can’t use ‘understand’ as a learning objective. I don’t get it. Don’t we want students to understand the basics of this industry

J: A great question, Peter! A lot of course developers ask that very question, and here’s our chance to explain. But first, I’ll ask you a question: What if you were teaching a course on instructional coaching for new instructors, which happens to be your specialty? How would you know if your students understand the basics? What would you expect them to be able to do to show you they understand?

P: Well, first of all, I guess I’d want them to understand why instructional coaching is important for new instructors.

J: Great! How do they show you they understand?

P: Well, I could ask them. Like…uh…Ah! I could ask them to explain to an instructor why instructional coaching so important.

J: Great! So, right there, you’ve got a learning objective. Would you say it again, please?

P: Uh…they should be able to explain to an instructor why instructional coaching is important.

J: There you go! That’s something you can ask your students to do, and you can see the result. You can hear them explain it. But I know there’s more…

P: Oh yeah. They need to be able to ask open-ended questions.

J: Great! There’s another learning objective. So, you ask them to create and ask open-ended questions. OK—do we have a complete picture of what it means to understand the basics of instructional coaching?

P: No, no! We’re just getting started. They need to be good listeners when instructors are expressing specific concerns or questions.

J: What does it mean to be a good listener? How do you know good listening when you see it (or hear it)?

P: Well, they can repeat the question or concern back to the instructor, to verify they heard it correctly. They will nod or make eye contact. When they write up their notes about the conversation or their observation, they can give the instructor a copy to verify the notes are accurate.

J: And so they can prove to you that they can do those things, by actually doing them as you observe them. So now, have we covered what it means to understand instructional coaching?

P: I need to think more about that. There’s probably more they need to be able to do.

J: Well, this podcast may not be the best place to figure that out. But now you have a definite new skill and I can see you using that skill. You can create learning objectives that describe skills that students can demonstrate to you. Does that make sense?

P: Actually, yes.

J: And by the way, what I just said was a learning objective for you.

P: Yeah, I got that!

J: Cool! And you can use those learning objectives to create assessments to be sure students have gotten those skills, and that will help you create your course material to be sure you’re actually teaching what they need to learn.

J: Thanks for your help with this podcast, and thanks for being such a good sport!

P: Sure! And that’s all for today, folks. Send us your questions, at peterf3@uw.edu or jkinney@uw.edu.