Friday, January 09, 2009

Instructional Objectives -- How Some of them Work

Lunchtime webinosh with Will Thalheimer, PhD (president of Work-Learning Research, Inc. Help organizations to bridge the gap between research on learning and reality.)

Brown Bag Learning follows subscription learning approach:

  • Repeats key concepts over time: Spacing
  • Enables you to get reminders and deepen your understanding
  • Enables you to remember over time

Learning News

Big topic this week -- Neon Elephant Award to Robert Brinkerhoff for developing case success method evaluation of learning and his new book.

Next event: Fri. Jan 23rd on Myths

Question of the Week

How has the economy affected your Learning Unit? (responses in parens below)

  • Hit us Hard (18%)
  • Hurt a Little (50%)
  • Not much effect (32?)

Instructional Objectives

The Learning Landscape (how the learning experience goes):

  1. Learning Intervention (Learner Learns)
  2. Performance Situation (Learner Retrieves, Learner Applies)
  3. Learning Outcome (Learner Fulfillment, Organization gets Learning Results)

Question: ID creates course on threshing and grinding, but only presents objections on threshing. What will happen?

Possible answers:

  1. Info on T & G will be better recalled (T+,G+)
  2. Info on T will be better recalled, while info on G will stay same (T+,G=)
  3. Info on T will be better recalled, but info on G will be more poorly recalled (T+,G-)

#3 was most popular choice among respondents.

We'll come back to that in a minute. (Delayed feedback.)

Types of Instructional Objectives

There are many types of Instructional Objectives

Two audiences we should be aiming for. Instructional objectives designed to guide behavior: for the learner, for the developer.

Instructional Objectives for Learner:

  • Table of contents objectives (these are the things we're going to teach you)
  • Performance Objectives (this is what you'll do..)
  • Motivation (why you should pay attention)
  • Focusing Objectives (what you should pay attention to)

Instructional Objectives for Developers:

  • Instr. Des Objectives (what we want learners to learn, behaviors for them to do)
  • Evaluation Objective (these are the things we're going to measure)
  • Situation (these are the list of situations)
  • Organizational Objectives (the benefits that will come to the organization)

Don't want one objective to fulfill all purposes.

Today's focus: Focusing Objectives

A statement presented before learner encounters material to help guide learner attention to the most important aspects of the learning material.

Correct answer (to question above):

#3 If provide learning objective to learner, they will focus more on that material. Info on T will be better recalled, but info on G will be more poorly recalled (T+,G-)

Research shows: When info is targeted by learning objectives the learner recalls that info better, but they pay less attention to the other stuff (thus the reduction in G).

When presented with a learning objective -- it sits in the long term memory. So later when that info is targeted in the material, the long term memory is triggered.


Which focusing objective will product the best learning?

  1. The physical appearance of three kinds of typefaces
  2. The physical appearance of gothic types, italic type, roman type
  3. Both will produce equal results

#2 is the best answer.

If objectives worded general, they have very little effect.

Focusing objectives should be VERY specific.

Do you use focusing objectives?

47% of us said "some of the time"

Which will be more effective at guiding learner atttention?

  1. You will learn that perch navigate by using the sun?
  2. Answer yes or no. Can perch navigate by using the sun?
  3. Both will produce equal results

#2 is best response. The value of pre-questions. Research shows prequestions do work. Especially in prequestions that learner answers rather than reads.

Prequestions are about equal but slightly higher to a focusing objective.

What other ways can we guide learner attention to the most critical material?

[I've written on this topic before in My Objection to Learning Objectives. Be sure to read all of the great ideas put forth in the comments.]

Scenarios, pauses in material -- "pay attention to this", etc.

You don't need to use focusing questions and prequestions in every course. They are a tool in your toolbox. We all know that people mostly just click through a learning objective page of text bullets (they've been overused).

Sometimes it's good to surprise the learner.

Prequestions, especially scenario-based questions, are great for eLearning.

Lots of ways to guide a learner's attention: narration, white space, graphics, video, etc.

Focusing Objectives Summary:

  • Improve learning by 5-40%
  • Non-targeted info worse by 25%
  • Must be specific
  • Delivered close to learning (don't need to all be bunched up at the beginning of the workshop -- you can spread them out to when they will actually be learning that material)
  • Pre-questions are good

Learning Myth of the Week

Myth = Learning Objectives Don't Work. They do. They sometimes don't work, because the learners aren't paying attention. (So how can you design your courses so that learners DO pay attention?)

Myth = Objectives must be used. No. There are other ways to guide attention.

Myth = Objectives should be used like a Table of Contents. No


Unknown said...

Wow! This is a great play-by-play on the Webinosh. I was bummed that I missed the detail on the types of objectives, but ta-dah! There they are. Thanks!

mike said...

Yes, great recap. I missed part of this too. THANK YOU!!!

Cammy Bean said...

Always happy to put my typing skills to work!

Dan said...

Cammy, thanks. I was signed up for this but my meeting over ran and I was still on a cold bus back from London. But hey! It's like I was there. D

Cammy Bean said...

You're welcome, Dan :)