Create your learning objectives

What are learning objectives?

Learning objectives are specific statements that define what learners will be able to do — and what skills they will learn — after taking your course. They should be demonstrable, meaning a learner can demonstrate that they’ve achieved a learning objective through action, and measurable, meaning what someone has learned could be measured through assessment.

As an example: “Use the ‘situation, behavior, impact’ framework to deliver constructive feedback to your colleagues.” A learner could demonstrate for themselves that they’ve achieved this objective by writing feedback using the framework, and an instructor could measure or assess the learner’s skill by reading the written feedback.

Why are learning objectives important?

Learning objectives are crucial to position your course for prospective learners and should be the foundation of your course content. They appear as a bulleted list on your CLP and in a pop up when a user hovers over the course on the homepage or search page. They may be the first things learners see and should offer an immediate understanding of what skills they can expect to gain from your course. This is what they do:

  • Provide clarity for learners: Learning objectives — in a way — are like a look into the future. They’re what a learner should know how to do once they’ve finished your course. But they should also communicate the skill level learners need to have to get there. Learners spend their time and (often) their money in hopes of learning skills in return. So well-written learning objectives will help them to decide if your course is right for them and their own career objectives. You can read more about defining your ideal learner audience in our define your audience guide.
  • Outline your course content: Learning objectives also help you structure both your overall course and your individual sections, lectures, and practice activities. Using them throughout your course content helps you build your content progressively and usually leads to a better learner experience. Read more in our outline your course guide.

Make your course appealing with learning objectives on your course landing page (CLP)

You will create at least four learning objectives for your course that will be visible to prospective learners on the “What You’ll Learn” section of your course landing page (CLP).

When crafting your course learning objectives for your CLP, try to describe the skills and benefits learners can expect to gain as a result of taking your course, in an accurate and compelling way. You want enough learning objectives to comprehensively cover what’s included in your course, but not so many that a potential learner might glaze over them. Make sure your learning objectives are rooted in tasks, skills, or goals that your learners genuinely want to achieve. Avoid keyword stuffing, overpromising, or vague objectives. 

Hint: Try imagining yourself as a prospective learner and check out the learning objectives of other courses that are similar to yours. What would make you choose one course over another? 

Ground your learning objectives in Learning Design principles

You can employ frameworks like Bloom’s Taxonomy to craft learning objectives that span a range of cognitive levels, from basic recall of facts to higher-order thinking like analysis and evaluation. 

Consider what level of understanding or familiarity your ideal learner has with your topic, and craft your learning objectives accordingly. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy contains six different levels of understanding. You’ll want to choose the most appropriate for a lecture or activity: 

  1. Remembering: Ability to recall or recognize information such as facts, terms, and basic concepts without understanding the underlying concepts
  2. Understanding: Ability to explain ideas or concepts
  3. Applying: Ability to apply the material in new situations
  4. Analyzing: Ability to draw connections among ideas
  5. Evaluating: Ability to make judgments based on criteria and standards
  6. Creating: Ability to create new work or ideas from existing ones

As an easy example, imagine a basic course on geometry. At the understanding level, a learning objective could be: “Know how to calculate the area for triangles, squares, and circles.”

Hint: People visit Udemy both to learn concepts but also specific skills — so those skills are a good thing to mention in your course objectives. In our geometry example, math a learner might be here to understand the concept of shape areas as well as the skills to calculate them.

The importance of specificity, authenticity, and realism

Make sure your learning objectives are rooted in tasks or goals that your learners genuinely want to achieve. Avoid the pitfalls of keyword stuffing, overpromising, or vague objectives. 

For instance, for our “basic geometry” course example, compare these two learning objectives: 

  • Use all the geometric formulas to go from beginner to absolute to shape master
  • Use basic geometric formulas to calculate shape area, as well as the hypotenuse of a triangle, and the circumference of a circle.

The second is both specific and realistic, whereas the first is vague and over-promising. Aim to make your learning objectives more like the second. 

How to write effective course learning objectives

Effective learning objectives are clear, specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant to learners. They should be action-oriented, align with your course content and assessments, and be written in clear, understandable language.

You can use this process to get started:

  1. Identify the concept or skill you want learners to learn. Example: The hypotenuse of a triangle
  2. Identify the level of understanding you want learners to demonstrate. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six levels of understanding (remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create). For this example, we’ll choose “apply.”
  3. Select a verb that is demonstrable and measurable to describe the behavior at the appropriate level of learning. Example: Calculate the hypotenuse using the Pythagorean theorem.
  4. Add additional criteria to indicate how or when the outcome will be demonstrable to add context for the learner. Example: Calculate the hypotenuse of a right triangle for a simple construction diagram.

Key takeaways 

  • Learning objectives are specific, measurable statements that define what learners will be able to do after taking your course.
  • Effective learning objectives are clear, achievable, and relevant, avoiding pitfalls like overpromising or vague language. 
  • Create course learning objectives for your Course Landing Page (CLP) that position your course and its benefits accurately for prospective learners.
  • Utilize learning objectives to help outline your course sections, lectures, and practice activities to enhance content structure and learner experience.
  • Use frameworks like Bloom’s Taxonomy to craft objectives that align with different cognitive levels, from basic recall to higher-order thinking.

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