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Do Your Competencies have a Recipe?
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Do Your Competencies have a Recipe?

Once you’ve written course competencies, it’s time to think about giving your learners a guide for achieving those outcomes.  If the competency is “Interview for a job”, what are the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will help your learners be successful at interviewing for a job?  

That’s where learning objectives come in. They are the ingredients that bake the cake of your competencies. Learning objectives are the subordinate skills that combine to make a competency.  It’s important to make them clear to your learners because they help break down the competency into smaller achievable skills. Once learners know what is in the recipe, it doesn’t seem so hard to bake the cake.

Learning objectives also help with formative assessment. Assignments and quizzes based on learning objectives can point learners to what they know and what they still need to learn. 

Well-written learning objectives have the same characteristics as well-written competencies – except they describe supporting skills, not major skills.

Learning Objective Checklist

  • Reflect on what learners must do in an educational setting to achieve a specifically related competency.
  • Learning objectives begin with an action verb.
  • May come from the simplest levels of instruction.
  • Are observable and measurable.
  • Are clear, concise, and precise descriptions of skills, knowledge or attitudes.
  • Specify single performance/outcomes, not a combination of performances.
  • Describe the learner’s performance, not the instructor’s activities, learning activities, instructional strategies, etc.

As a guideline, each competency should have two to ten learning objectives.  If you have less than two, you may have written your competency too narrowly.  If you have more than 10, it’s possible your competency is too large in scope. Remember, the level of learning objectives should be lower than the competency’s level.

Read more: New Instructors Navigate Curriculum