How do I begin developing learning goals for my course?
You are the expert in this process. Begin by relying on what you know about the subject, what you know you can realistically teach in the course, and what your students can realistically learn. As you begin developing learning goals think of concepts, topics, important skills, and vital areas of learning connected to your course. Make a list and don’t worry about developing full goal statements. That will come later. The list you develop is perhaps the most important step in this exercise; it will form the basis for goals, assessments, and the overall teaching and learning process. Share your list with colleagues. Let them help you critique it. Keep returning to “what can you realistically teach and what can your students learn” as a way of editing the list to something that is manageable. Your list should help you answer the question, “What do I want my students to know or be able to do by the end of this course?”
Consider the following points as you develop learning goals:
- *Don’t get trapped into thinking that you will only be able to teach to the goals. Your learning goals point out the high points and learners always need to know all of the supporting content, theory, data, different points of view, and relevant facts that support the high points.
*Keep the number of learning goals – manageable and realistic. The first time you go through this exercise opt for a shorter list knowing that you can edit it as needed. Five or six goals might be a good starting point.
*Write goal statements that begin with action verbs. By using verbs that specify action, the outcome is more likely to be measurable. Actions help identify what needs to be assessed (did this student develop a plan, facilitate a process, establish a relationship, present a solution?) (See list of action verbs on the next page).
*Use language that is discipline-specific and appropriate to your field.
*Think about goals that are valuable to you and your students. Consider how discipline specific goals map to broader skills attainment (e.g., critical thinking, analytical resasoning and written/oral communication.
*Think about your teaching experience. What evidence tells you that students have met your expectations? How would you know that they are getting it? In other words, learning goals should be measurable; you will need evidence that the goal was or was not achieved.
*Several examples of learning goals taken from UC Berkeley undergraduate courses
By the end of this course students will be able to:
- *Identify major figures and ideas in peace movements from around the world.
*Formulate a well-organized argument supported by evidence.
*Communicate effectively in the language of the target country and read appropriate vernacular materials in our field.
*Practice ethical behavior while engaging in service learning.
*Demonstrate the ability to read, evaluate and interpret general economic information.
*Apply the necessary mathematical tools to solving complex design problems.
*Apply scientific principles to analyze mechanical systems of importance to society.
*Analyze media images and narratives.
*Apply research methods in psychology, including design, data analysis, and interpretation to a research project.
*Communicate effectively in an oral presentation.