Once the kind of training that is needed has been determined, it is equally important to determine what kind of training is not needed. Employees should be made aware of all the steps involved in a task or procedure, but the training should focus only with those steps on which improved performance is needed. This avoids unnecessary training and tailors the training to meet the needs of the employees.
Determining what the learner needs to know and do should be developed before the training session. Writing goals and objectives will help make sure your training is appropriate and useful to the learner. Effective goals and objectives help ensure training stays on track so that learners gain the specific knowledge and skills required. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z490.1 guidelines require goals and objectives be written for safety training.
In this module, we'll define goals and objectives, and discuss the steps in writing effective learning objectives which are important when developing both instruction and training.
One of the most important, yet for some, the most difficult activities in the training process is writing clear-cut, competency-based learning objectives that describe what the learner will be able to do at the end of the training session. Some trainers believe goals and objectives are basically the same thing; not so. Let's take a look.
A goal is nothing more than a wish. We've all stated goals like, "I wish I could lose some weight," from time to time. Goals are broad in the sense that they state general intentions. They are not specific enough to be measured. Objectives, on the other hand, are narrow and are set for certain tasks in particular. (More on objectives soon.)
Goals are appropriate for general safety instruction because this type of training does not require measurement of observable, measurable outcomes.
Goals are normally unnecessary when developing specific technical safety training because they are too general in nature and therefore, insufficient.
Technical safety training that teaches safety procedures requires written objectives to make sure employees are proficient. Otherwise, they might be injured or killed!
There are two basic types of goals:
A training goal is a general statement about what the trainer wants to do. It states how the trainer will achieve the intended outcome of training. Training goals might be stated in an instructor guide, but not in the student workbook or handout. For instance, training goals might look like this:
Notice that the examples state what the trainer will do: they use action verbs.
A learning goal, on the other hand, is a general statement about what the trainer wants each student to know and/or do. It summarizes what the learner, not the trainer, will know or be able to do. Learning goals would be included in the student workbook or handout. For instance:
Notice here, that the first two examples above describe what the learner will know. They use passive verbs (understand, gain awareness). The second example uses an action verb to describe what the student will do. It's important to "know" the difference.
A training objective is a specific statement describing what the trainer is going to do during or immediately after training. For instance, a training objective might state:
A learning objective is a specific statement describe what the learners will know and/or be able to do after training. It describes results, rather than the means of achieving those results. It defines expectations for the learner. Here are some examples:
In this module, we primarily focus on a discussion of learning objectives.
It's very important that we write learning objectives clearly so that both trainers and learners understand what the learner is expected to do at the end of training. Writing learning objectives is required by ANSI Z490.1 guidelines when hazardous procedures and practices are taught. Virtually all technical safety training requires testing. Because employees must be tested, learning objectives are necessary to design specific measures and standards into training.
Effective learning objectives also:
An effective learning objective describes outcomes in terms of observable, measurable behaviors. They should be based on an objective needs analysis, not on conjecture or existing trainer guides. The objective should specify the knowledge, skills, and abilities (SKAs) that make performing the task possible. To make sure your learning objectives are clear and concise, be sure include each of the four components: Audience, Behavior, Conditions, and Standard.
Let's use the following example to get a better idea about the four parts of an effective objective. The numbers within the objective refer to the related criteria discussed below:
Now, Let's take a look at the four components in the above learning objective:
The objective identifies the audience.
Example: "each student"
Example: "will list" More examples.
Example: "without help"
The student may or may not be assisted as a condition under which they must perform. The condition specifies constraints, limitations, and resources such as tools, working aids, assistance, supervision, and physical environment is given to the learner to perform.
Criteria should describe how well the learner must perform such as:
Example: "all steps...in proper order. "
James Evans', 1961 NSPI paper, Behavioral Objectives Are No Damn Good, recommends that the trainer work backwards to develop objectives by first developing the performance test, then writing the learning objectives. The following approach outlines this simplified procedure for writing learning objectives.
Step 1: Complete a simulated task analysis
Picture in your mind the job environment, materials, and events so you have an understanding of the job to be performed. (An actual Job Hazard/Safety Analysis would be better if possible.)
Step 2: Identify performance requirements
Identify the specific things the employee is required to do in order to perform the job in question. These specific "performance items" should be written down in preparation for developing the criterion test.
Step 3: Develop a criterion test
The criterion test should have a direct relationship to the performance requirements of the job. It should also require the actual behavior that we want the learners to be able to perform. If we want them to be able to explain, the criterion test item should ask for an explanation. For instance: If we want them to be able to properly use a respirator, the test should tell them to inspect it, and so on.
In developing a criterion test there are three areas of concern:
- What questions do we want the learner to be able to answer, and what are the minimum critical components of an acceptable answer?
- What problems do we want the learner to be able to solve, and what are the critical components of an acceptable solution?
- What actions or tasks do we want the learner to be able to carry out, and what are the critical components of acceptable action?
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