Learning Goals and
What, Why, How
Department of Geosciences
University of Rhode Island
Goals of this Webinar on
By the end of this webinar, you will be able
Give examples of an overarching course-level
learning goal and a more specific topic-level or
Describe the difference between the cognitive levels
in Bloom’s Taxonomy and why InTeGrate authors
should know this difference.
List at least two characteristics of well-designed
learning goals and state why they are important.
Defend why learning goals should align with
assessments for a given course.
Learning Goals: What and
WhyWhat is a “Learning Goal?”
What do you want students to be able to do after
completing your course? Therefore, LGs…
Clarify what you want students to accomplish
Effectively communicate expectations to students
Help you select methods, materials and assignments
that are appropriate
Help guide development of assessments that show
what students have learned
Why do we use LGs? Why are they important?
Align goals, materials, activities and assessments
About 40 to 50% of the InTeGrate rubric relates to
LGs should be measurable
Learning Goals: What and
WhyWe will use the term “learning goals” today or LGs
Other popular terms: Objectives or Outcomes.
Let’s keep it simple: Stick with Learning Goals (or
All goals should be measurable
All goals (and teaching, really) should be student-
All goals should align with one or more assessment
Learning Goals: What and
WhyWhat is a “level” for a learning goal?
How are course-level goals (also called
“overarching goals”) different from unit-level or
So a course-level goal is still measurable but has
a broader focus. Unit-level or activity-level goals
will be more specific and will mention specific
tasks or practices that students will master or
least become proficient in.
Introducing Bloom’s Taxonomy!
Bloom’s Taxonomy – Big Picture
Three (3) Domains of learning:
1. Cognitive (Knowledge)
2. Affective (Feelings, Emotion)
Attitude, Sense of Self
3. Psycho-motor (Skills)
Manual or Physical
Bloom’s Taxonomy: Action
Verbs (adapted from a resource link on the participant site for
this webinar)Remembering - List, Describe, Relate, Locate, Write, Find, State,
Name, Identify, Label, Recall, Define, Recognize, Match,
Understanding - Explain, Interpret, Outline, Discuss, Distinguish,
Predict, Restate, Translate, Compare, Describe, Relate,
Applying - Solve, Show, Use, Illustrate, Construct, Complete,
Examine, Classify, Choose, Interpret, Make, Apply, Produce,
Analyzing - Analyze, Distinguish, Examine, Compare, Contrast,
Investigate, Identify, Explain, Deduce.
Evaluating - Judge, Select, Choose, Decide, Justify, Debate,
Verify, Argue, Recommend, Assess, Discuss, Rate, Prioritize,
Determine, Critique, Evaluate, Criticize, Weigh, Value, Estimate,
Creating - Create, Invent, Compose, Predict, Plan, Construct,
Design, Propose, Devise, Formulate, Combine, Hypothesize,
Note: There is some overlap in the verbs, it depends on the
level of the activity you are attempting to capture with the goal.
How to write a good learning
1. What do you want students to know? What skills
should they have when they leave your course?
Write those down
2. Which active verbs from Bloom’s taxonomy are
most appropriate? Should students “describe” or
“collect and plot data” or “synthesize reports” or
“devise a plan” or a mix of these? Add the
appropriate verb(s) to the goal.
3. What level (course-level? topic-level?) is this goal
being used for? Course, topic, unit and activities
can (should) have their own goals.
4. Develop course content and iterate. Writing good
Let’s Practice: Examining Goals
(Revised from “Goal Setting” workshop by T. Boyd and C. Manduca)
Consider two versions of a goal about plate tectonics:
Students must demonstrate an understanding of plate
tectonics, the forces involved, and an appreciation of the
physical relationships between the various components.
Students will be able to describe in detail the physical
manifestations of plate tectonics that we observe, the
nature of, size, and role of each of the various forces
involved in driving the plates, and will present examples
of the physical relationships between the various
What if this goal was the basis of an essay assessment?
How might that assessment read?
Small Group Activity
We have provided a number of examples for you to work
with. Answer the following questions:
1. Is the goal student-centered (rather than teacher-centered)?
2. Is the goal concrete or is it vague and abstract?
3. What Bloom’s level could be assigned to this goal? (1-
Remember, 2- Understand, 3-Apply, 4-Analyze, 5-Evaluate, 6-
4. Is the goal course-level, unit-level, topic-level, or activity-level?
5. How might you make this goal more challenging? (Hint: think
6. Could you design an activity/assignment/test question that
would allow you to determine whether students have met the
goal or not (does the goal have a “measurable outcome?”)?
Go into your individual group space (linked from the
What are your reactions to the exercise?
What themes are important?
What questions do you have about the process
of writing learning goals for your course and/or