pattern #7 - learning goals

Learning Goals


At the start of any learning journey, provide a set of informal learning goals for your audience.

  • VALUE Activate Prior Knowledge
  • Design Effort Low
  • Share

Evidence-Based Research

Presenting the learning goals at the start of a learning journey will help learners activate relevant prior knowledge, which improves comprehension and recall.
In their research, John Bransford and Marcia Johnson (1972) show in 4 different studies that learners recorded increased comprehension ratings and recall scores when supplied with appropriate information before they heard a detailed description. The same research highlights that prior knowledge, which is essential for retention, does not play a role unless activated.


In this example, I will present the learning goals for an appraisal exercise course delivered at organizational level. The course is targeting all top managers within the organization and is aiming to improve the appraisal process which is in place for several years now.
Most managers will know the basics of the process, but because not all of them followed a formal training programme, their understanding of the process is not always consistent with the organizational guidelines.

Activity Rating Pattern
Start with a rationale

Before the learning objectives, I find it very useful to add one or two sentences that explain the rationale of the course. This will help set the right mindset and avoid negative reactions, such as “Again with this?” or “do I need a course for this?”.
I think of this as the part where we need to sell our course. I also like to call this the elevator pitch of the course. In fact, this is how I ask the SMEs to help me define this short intro “If you meet with a manager in the elevator, what would you say to convince him to come to your training session?”.

Activity Rating Pattern
Add informal learning goals

As you probably know, it is not recommended just to dump the formal course objectives, which tend to be very dull and complex to understand.
Instead, we need to turn these formal objectives into very simple ones, which are easy to understand and motivate learners.


Udemy, Coursera and EdX, three of the most popular online training tools, allow authors to add the learning goals in the course info or syllabus area, outside the actual learning course.

similar patterns

Explore patterns that serve similar goals