VOices Blog Members Home Events English | Français Shopping Cart
Skip to main content
VOices

Blog

posted on Jul 9, 2018
orientation-350px.jpg

Volunteers are central to what you do: they are often the public face of your organization, dealing directly with your clients and the public. You owe it to your volunteers, and to your stakeholders, to provide quality training. Part of quality training is making sure people actually learned what you set out to teach, which are expressed as learning objectives.

What are learning objectives?

When you plan any endeavour, you need to start with the end in mind. Decide what you plan to accomplish and decide how you will know you’ve accomplished it. In the case of a training session, the desired accomplishment should be framed in terms of learning objectives.

A learning objective is a statement of what trainees will be able to do when they have completed the training. [1] It needs to be observable in order for you to know that it has been accomplished. A well-written learning objective has three parts:

  1. A description of what the trainee will be able to do
  2. The conditions under which the trainee will complete the task
  3. The criteria for evaluating trainee performance

Learning Objectives vs. Goals

Learning objectives are related to learning goals, but they are different in important ways. A learning goal is “a statement of the intended general outcome of an instructional program” [1, p. 1]

For example, if you are training someone to work at the registration desk at an upcoming event, you could set the following goal and learning objectives:

 GOAL:
The goal of the training is to enable the trainee to process registrations efficiently and professionally. A supervisor will be present during the event to provide support.

 Learning Objective #1:
In a role-play scenario, the trainee will process all three types of registrations (regular, youth, and low-income) accurately and professionally

 Learning Objective #2:
The trainee will be at least 80% correct on a quiz (written or oral) regarding basic facts about the event, such as schedule, assigned tables, location of bathrooms, and emergency exits.

 

Note that I have assumed that the trainees do not need to be great at managing any exceptions to general procedures, because I assume a supervisor will be present. If you did not have the capacity for supervision, then the training would need to be more thorough, with more learning objectives, and a higher standard of performance before you decide that the trainee is ready for the job.

How do you write learning objectives?

Training is all about the trainee, not about the instructor. So in writing learning objectives, focus on the trainees and the skills you need them to acquire. Here are some tips: [1]

  1. Focus on trainee performance, not instructor performance
  2. Focus on product (i.e. the end behaviour that you will look for) not process (i.e. the way you plan to teach)
  3. Focus on terminal behavior, not subject matter – what will the trainee be able to do as a result of the training? If you want them to know something, what will they do to demonstrate that they know it?
  4. Include only one general learning outcome in each objective

Use verbs

Because a learning objective describes an action you need the trainee to perform, make sure every learning objective incorporates at least one verb which accurately describes that action. Here is a good list of verbs to help you.

Why are learning objectives important?

Your organization does important work, and your volunteers are an important part of making that work happen. You owe it to your team, and more importantly, to your clients, to make sure your volunteers are able to do the work they are assigned to do, to the standard your clients deserve.

Remember, if you have not observed a trainee displaying the desired skill, you have not yet verified that they have that skill. Take the time to make sure, and give extra training, or re-assign the volunteer to another job if needed.

Learning objectives are an integral part of a well-designed training program. To learn more, come to our upcoming workshop.

Click here to register Thursday September 20, 2018. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Like what you've read? Subscribe to our RSS feed so you never miss a post! We have a general RSS Feed for all VOices blog posts, as well as a Volunteer Management RSS Feed, which will focus on topics related to volunteer management.

Related blog posts:

[1] R. A. Arreola, "Writing Learning Objectives," [Online]. Available: https://www.uwo.ca/tsc/graduate_student_programs/pdf/LearningObjectivesArreola.pdf. [Accessed 20 June 2018].
new comment comment
view archives Archives
RSS RSS