Guidelines for creating learning-objective matrices
Name all the new conceptual themes that underpin the course. Do not put in too many themes, normally 3 to 5 is optimal for a course lasting one period.
If possible, use the same phrases as preceding courses on the same topic used in their column Reaches the learning objectives and refer to the name of the course. Of this is not possible, describe the required pre-knowledge on the same level of abstraction.
Approaches, reaches, deepens the learning objectives
In these columns, try to avoid structures that look like lists of contents for the courses. Focus on the essential. The abstraction level cannot zoom into too small details. The list of contents for a course is usually more detailed than e.g. the column ‘Reaches...’. From many of the items – not necessarily consecutive – in the list of contents for a course, you can refer to one item in the column ‘Reaches...’.
The choice of words is significant. The learning objectives must be clear and explicit.
Give a clear and succinct description of what students can do after taking the course. Present the learning objectives in the following form: the student will be able to list, calculate, assess, apply, explain, predict, model such and such things. Try to avoid words like 'learn' and 'understand,' in cases where it is hard both for teachers and students to assess whether they have been realised. Each course block, assignment, or even content of a single lecture of the course should be considered in the same way, through the learning objectives.
All the objectives of a course should not be on the lowest level of the hierarchy (adapted from Bloom's taxonomy).
- The lowest level is 'recalling': an example of the objective is to list, to pick.
- The second level is ‘elementary comprehension’: explain, describee.
- The third level is 'application': apply, calculate, solve.
- The fourth level is 'analysis': derive, classify.
- The fifth level is 'synthesis': design, formulate.
- The sixth level is 'evaluation': deduce and justify, select and justify.
Students who master all of the matrix column 'reaches the learning objectives should be graded 5/5 for the course. Students who master everything in the column 'approaches the learning objectives should pass the course. The advanced objectives are not a requirement for the course, but they are intended to introduce students to a deeper understanding of the main topic. This means that the contents of the advanced objectives do not have to be discussed during the course.
All the learning objectives do not have to concern informational contents, but some of them may pertain to work methods. In the software engineering project, for example, some of the learning objectives can naturally pertain to team working or project management.