2.2. Learning Goals

Once you understand the situational factors surrounding your course, the next step in course design or redesign is to establish clear student learning goals. If you’re new to learning goals, a good place to start is by asking yourself “How do I want my students to be different as a result of taking this course?” Thoughtful answers to this question form the foundation of your learning goals. As you continue to refine them, remember that effective learning goals should be:

  • Student-centered: Starting with the stem “Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to…” typically sets you up to write a goal that will focus on student learning rather than on your teaching. 
  • Concrete and specific: Articulating as clearly as possible the skills or knowledge you’d like students to obtain will make your course design easier and help students understand what’s expected of them. See bit.ly/b-verbs for a helpful list of concrete and specific verbs you might consider.
  • Measurable: Your goals should form the basis of your assessments throughout the semester, and as such, should typically be something that can be meaningfully measured. 
  • Attainable: Make sure that your goals are feasible for an average student in your course, given the course level and situational factors you’ve considered above. 

The unique circumstances this fall may necessitate a reconsideration of some of your goals. We recommend that you spend some time revisiting your existing goals, and ask yourself whether they fit the above criteria given the current situational factors. In particular, will the goals be attainable and measurable in a dual-mode classroom, or if you have to switch to fully remote teaching? 

Example: In a class on La Telenovela (a genre of Latin American soap opera), a major goal in a standard semester is that students will “Write, produce, plan, direct, shoot, act in, and edit a mini telenovela” as a whole class project. Given the realities of social distancing and masking, and the possibility of shifting to fully remote work, however, that goal was revised for 2020 to become “Write a mini telenovela (as a whole class project) and a 1200 to 1500 word individual paper that explores the genre through an intellectual or industry lens.”