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Develop Student Learning Goals and Objectives

Learning Goals

Faculty use their disciplinary expertise as well as the mission of their program to guide development of student learning goals. These goals form the foundation of an academic program and determine which educational opportunities should be provided to students. Goals encompass the knowledge, skills, attitudes, dispositions, aspirations and behaviors that faculty expect their students to have developed upon completion of program requirements.

Objectives

What, specifically, will students know or be able to do as a result of participating in learning activities? These outcomes are outlined in course objectives. Course objectives are aligned with program goals but are more specific and concrete (i.e., defined in a way that makes them measurable). Course objectives are also sometimes called outcomes, competencies, aims, learning objectives or performance objectives.

Examples of broad versus specific wordings for course objectives


Fine Arts

* Broad: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the history, literature and function of the theater, including works from various periods and cultures.
* More specific: Students will be able to explain the theoretical bases of various dramatic genres and illustrate them with examples from plays of different eras.
* Even more specific, specifying the conditions: During the senior dramatic literature course, the students will be able to explain the theoretical bases of various dramatic genres and illustrate them with examples from plays of different eras.

Philosophy

* Broad: The student will be able to discuss philosophical questions.
* More specific: The student is able to develop relevant examples and to express the significance of philosophical questions using appropriate analytical frameworks.

General Education

* Broad: Students will be able to think in an interdisciplinary manner.
* More specific: Asked to solve a problem in the student’s field, the student will be able to draw from theories, principles, and/or knowledge from other disciplines to help solve the problem.

Business

* Broad: Students will understand how to use technology effectively.
* More specific: Each student will be able to use word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations graphics in preparing their final research project and report.

Psychology

* Broad: Students will understand the historically important systems of psychology.
* More specific: Students will understand the psychoanalytic, Gestalt, behaviorist, humanistic, and cognitive approaches to psychology.
* Even more specific: Students will be able to recognize and articulate the foundational assumptions, central ideas, and dominant criticisms of the psychoanalytic, Gestalt, behaviorist, humanistic, and cognitive approaches to psychology.

(How to Write Objectives and Outcomes, University of Connecticut Assessment)

Photo: NYU Faculty

What's the Difference?

Learning Goals:  program level; general statements of what students will learn; broad, big picture, difficult to measure Objectives:  course level; what, specifically, students will be able to do as a result of engaging in the learning activity; aligned with goals but more concrete and measurable
  • knowledge
  • skills
  • dispositions
  • behaviors
that faculty would like students to have developed upon completion of program requirements

Objectives are SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable and aligned
  • Realistic
  • Timebound

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Practical Approaches for Developing Student Learning Goals

How to define and develop student learning goals.
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Practical Approaches for Developing Student Learning Objectives

How to develop SMART objectives.
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