Remote teaching

Course design: Objectives

Course Objectives describe specific abilities students should have gained by completing a course. Good Course Objectives are specific and measurable; they, too, focus on student ability. When Course Objectives are explicit, students can take agency of their learning. Students can do this by choosing to align their efforts and resources with the Course Objectives.

To articulate good Course Objectives, instructors might imagine their students at the end of their course. Instructors can then ask themselves:

  • What do I want my students to take away from my course?
  • What skills do I want my students to be able to execute by the end of my course? 

The answers to these questions can help inform an instructor’s Course Objectives. Consequently, a Course Objective is an articulation of a desired endpoint for the student. (Though related, they are not the content areas that the instructor hopes to cover.)

Not all Course Objectives are sophisticated. Some might involve lower order thinking skills, and others might be at a higher level. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Verbs is often  useful  for thinking through Course Objectives. 

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You can also access a full pdf of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Verbs here: blooms-poster-copy.pdf

That said, Course Objectives tend to look like the following. Here is an example from an MIT syllabus:

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Course Objectives are often used to structure the content of a course. Additionally, Course Objectives can help instructors identify Learning Objectives within Modules and to create assessments aligned with these overarching goals.