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Best Practices: Learning Objectives

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Brief Overview

A typical first step in designing a course is to develop the objectives: what desired knowledge or skills do you want your students to achieve? Student learning objectives (SLOs) describe what students will be able to DO by the end of the course.  SLOs also determine the materials you will use, the activities students engage in, and the methods you use to evaluate them. Ideally, you will design both course-level learning objectives and focused learning objectives, or sub-objectives, for each course unit/module.

(Note: On this and other Best Practices pages, the terms objective and outcome are used interchangeably.)

As a way to develop course objectives, ask yourself what you want students to learn. Consider identifying objectives that span Bloom’s 6 levels of complexity:

Additional resources to help you identify and write course objectives:

Want more help? Reach out to ECTL staff at 

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