Training Aims & Objectives : what are they?
After carrying out a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and determined that training is required, you now need to start on the training strategy and development of the course. A training course should have an aim and objectives.
The introduction of new ways of working, whether it is a new system or machine, has been decided for a reason. The decision was made perhaps to improve production and efficiency, whether it is to produce more of a certain item with the new machine or reduce administrative time and effort with a new system. This will give you the starting point for your measurements and the formulation of the training aim which is the goal of the training and at the same time matching the business objective. The subsequent training will provide measurable business benefits to justify its implementation.
A training aim is written to indicate the desired outcome and performance. It describes the purpose and the intended overall achievement. It can have the business objective measurement included. For example – the aim of the training is to provide the production team with the abilities to operate the new machine so that outputs are increased from 20 to 30 per hour. This assumes that during the TNA the current measurement is 20 per hour and the desired output level by the business is 30 per hour, hence the introduction of new machinery. After the training has taken place, the output can be measured against the original and the overall business objective confirmed as successful.
There is a saying:
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t get there; but if, by chance, you do get there – you won’t know that you are there“.
Learning objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, acceptable to the instructor, realistic to achieve, and time-bound with a deadline).
An objective should be set for each main learning point in the course. These learning points are derived from the analysis of the steps that the user is required to perform.
This may equate to a single, simple process and therefore a single module (reporting or analysis of daily production for example). More often it is one module that covers a series of steps in a sequence required to complete a major learning point.
For example a new ordering system may require 3 main elements of customer, product and delivery. Within the customer element, there may be a need to search for a customer to see if they already exist on the system and if not, enter their details as a new customer.
What are the components of an objective?
An objective consists of Performance, Standard and Condition.
This is what the learner should be able to do at the end of the session. It is an action or behaviour of the learner when demonstrating their improved ability and understanding. The performance needs to be measurable.
The performance commences with a verb and the following list will help you create measurable learning objectives. Avoid words such as know or understand because you need to go one step further in the evaluation to assess how they know or understand.
- Identify Analyse
- Develop Use
The categories below and the “action” verb may also help. Reference – Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Each learning objective should be measurable and include the criteria for evaluating the performance of the learner. This element of the objective provides information that clarifies to what level the learner must perform the action or behaviour to be judged adequate or efficient. Learning objectives indicate a degree of accuracy, a level of quality or quantity or some other type of measurable information. Standards serve the dual purpose of informing learners of performance expectations and giving a clue as to what will be used to measure their success. Learners will consciously or unconsciously benchmark themselves against the standards to guide their performance. Use specific terms that have limited interpretations and ensure that everyone understands the same interpretation.
These are the conditions set for performing the action or behaviour. The condition identifies what the learner will be able to use to carry out the required task or performance, or what they may not be able to use. The condition identifies the context or environment in which the task or performance is to be carried out. It may relate to a time frame for completion, with or without notes or memory aids, using simulation software, etc. A condition falls into four main categories:
- Tools – equipment provided that is necessary for the task
- References – documentation such as user manual
- Aids – additional equipment and checklists that may make the task easier to perform and will aid the evaluation of the performance
- Context – role-play situation, real-life case scenario, laboratory environment etc.
Here are a couple of examples that would follow the initial wording for an objective “By the end of the session you will be able to…”
Write a letter in response to a customer enquiry using a word processor and with no spelling mistakes.
Correctly enter the name of the capital city for each of the states shown on a map of the USA.
There is a wealth of information available regarding aims and objectives on the internet. There is much discussion about the value or not of well written aims and objectives. Also you will find reference to learning outcomes which further breaks down the course content. Whatever you read, remember that the intention of the aims and objectives are for you, the trainer and for your learner. You can design a better course and the learner will know what is expected of them.