The task at this stage of development of the assessment plan is to redefine broad, global goal statements by specifying them in terms that allow for evaluation of how well students are meeting these learning goals.

List the student learning objectives for this major (course). Learning objectives should specify the activities, products, or performances to be measured and evaluated and the criteria they must meet for success. Learning objectives state what students will know, understand, and be able to do when they complete this major (course).

Defining objectives requires faculty and others to reflect on the questions below:

  • How can the learning goals be stated as an activity, product, or performance that can be measured?
  • What will students know, understand, and be able to do when they complete studies within this academic unit?
  • Will the specified learning objectives provide direction for educational activities in the unit and inform students about the expectations of the faculty?

An example of the transformation of learning goal statements to learning objectives can be demonstrated using the examples of learning goals presented in step one.

Goal: To develop “responsible persons who will dedicate themselves to the . . . enhancement of the physical environment."
Learning Objective: Students will be able by their junior or senior years to critique various ethical and legal policies that impact the physical environment and defend, in both verbal and written work, their choices as to those that benefit this environment.

Goal: “To foster literacy through the appreciation of the written word.”

Learning Objective 1: Students will be able to master interpretive and analytical skills in writing about literature.
Learning Objective 2: Students will be able to critique and revise their own material.

Goal: “To design and develop works of art that express ideas and personal feelings.”
Learning Objective: Students will provide a body of their artwork, accompanied with narrative, that demonstrates independent artistic development and self-reflection.

Restating learning objectives with as much specificity as possible by defining the criteria by which knowledge, performance, or values will be evaluated assures objectivity and makes required standards apparent. For example, in the second objective for English above, the faculty need to make explicit the level of performance students would attain for acceptable or unacceptable work. These revisions of objectives occur with discussion of what approaches or methods will be used as well as how objectives will be measured . . . the next steps in this process of assessment.