Defining the learning objectives of a programme, module or class is another important aspect of curriculum design.

The learning objectives are brief descriptions of how the learning aims (which we explored in the previous section) are going to be fulfilled. They explain the operational aspects of the teaching and learning in more detail than the learning aims, and they are written from the perspective of the educator.

Learning objectives should not be seen as a substitute for the student-focused intended learning outcomes (discussed in the next section). But they can be helpful for designing and planning learning, and for giving students a sense of the sort of learning experience they will encounter in the programme or module.

Questions that are useful for guiding the development of learning objectives might include:

  • What teaching methods will be used?
  • What are students going to be doing? What kinds of learning activities will they engage in?
  • What new knowledge, skills or understanding do you intend learners to gain, and at what level?

Here are some examples of learning objectives from an Engineering Design module in the Department of Aeoronautics:

The objectives of this module are:

  • To stress the importance of Engineering Design and Production.
  • To develop a level of competence in visualisation, comprehension and communication as befits those hoping to fill an engineering position on graduation.
  • To develop knowledge and skills for producing CAD (Computer Aided Design) engineering drawings to an acceptable standard.
  • To introduce an appreciation of engineering precision and a recognition of the interlinked requirements of function, material and production.

Note how these are all things that the teacher intends to do.

Take a moment to revisit the learning aims you developed in the previous section. How might those aims be expressed in terms of a more detailed series of learning objectives like the ones in this example?

In the next section we will turn our attention to those all-important intended learning outcomes (ILOs), and see how they are different to learning aims and objectives.