FAQ: How many learning objectives should a lesson have?

This is the first post in the FAQ series, where we'll be answering common questions teachers have...

How many learning objectives should a lesson have?

Each lesson should have one clear learning objective. That single learning objective will be made up of several components and should meet certain criteria.

A good learning objective will contain learning goals for knowledge, skill and application. Knowledge is new information the students will learn. Skill is new functions/operations the students will learn. Application is the context/situation that students will use their knowledge and skill in.

Here’s a format you can use. By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to (knowledge, skill, application).

This format also helps you fulfil the SMART goals criteria:

Specific: contains clear knowledge and skill goals and a context they will be applied in.

Measurable: the phrase “will be able to” gives us an observable outcome; if the students can do it, then the lesson was successful.

Attainable: Putting the objectives in a single, simple sentence like this—rather than a list or just referring to a syllabus—ensures that you are not trying to achieve too much in a single lesson

Relevant: Putting your objective into a single, simple sentence ensures that the components (knowledge, skill, application) fit together sensibly, i.e. that the knowledge is relevant to the skill, and they are applicable to the context.

Time-bound: the phrase “by the end of the lesson” gives a clear timeframe for the learning objective.

Using this format and ensuring that every lesson has a single, simple but complete learning objective is a great first step towards planning and preparing an effective lesson.

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