Writing Goals and Objectives

Communicating your goals and objectives for the course will help:

Learners may also articulate their own goals for the course, which may result in increased motivation and engagement.

Carnegie Mellon University offers an excellent resource on the the value of learning objectives in promoting student learning.

Course Goals

Course goals are broad statements about what learners will have achieved by the end of the course. They are meant to be enduring and will provide the basis for the development of learning objectives, which are more specific and fine-tuned. Using the metaphor of your course as a building, the course goals might be the foundation and the objectives the scaffolding - important to the construction, but not the same as the foundation.

Example Course Goal: By the end of the course, students will be able to apply fundamental theories in social psychology to real-world situations.


Taxonomies can be helpful in preparing to write course goals. These may include:

Well written course goals often have the following characteristics:

Circle question.pngReflection In designing your course goals, it may be helpful to ask yourself "how will students be different as a result of taking this class?" This will help you to focus on the learning (rather than on the topics you want to cover).

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are typically related to specific content chunks or course modules. Learning activities typically flow from these objectives.

Writing good learning objectives can be helped with the use of a criteria. The S.M.A.R.T. criteria is often helpful. Using this criteria, learning objectives should be:

Example: Learners will analyze a case study, identify the relevant social psychology theories at play,draw out examples from the study to support their answers and present their study to the class during the third week of the course.

Example: identify theories, draw out examples to support their answers and present to the class. It's also helpful to think of this section of the criteria as motivating. Are the students choosing their own cases based on what interests them - or writing their own if they have an experience to share?

Example: identify, draw out, support, present.

Example: during the third week of the course.

Sample Course Goals & Learning Objectives

Carnegie-Mellon's Eberly Teaching Centre: Sample Learning Objectives

Circle question.pngReflection Goals relate to your destination, objectives are the steps you need to take in order to get there. In planning your course, have you defined the steps that are important for your learner to engage with in order to reach the destination you intend for them?