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Best Practices for Writing Training Objectives

Training objectives describe what the participant in the workshop should be able to do when the training is complete. Training objectives seem to be easy to write, but they take considerable thought and practice to get right each time. For any workshop I’m developing, I don’t write training objectives once and forget about them. Rather, I write them and then test that they follow these criteria:

  • Observable: you must be able to see the individual performing the skill.
  • Measurable: you must be able to assess how effectively the individual uses the skill.
  • Attainable: the objective must be realistic, can it be achieved in the amount of time allotted and given the individual’s background and current skills.
  • Specific: the objective must be specific and not general. Words such as “write, create, describe, list, analyze” are all examples of specific tasks the individual should be able to do once the training is complete. Words such as “know, feel, understand” are not specific enough. How would you measure or observe them?

Here are a few examples of objectives that meet the criteria above:

Participants will write an article of at least 250 words on a current event, including an introductory paragraph, information about the event, and a closing summary, free of typographical errors and grammatically correct.

Participants will apply the 5 steps of an effective negotiation to a role play situation in the classroom.

At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to list and describe the benefits and features of each of the company’s 10 different products.

Believe me – it takes some time to write really solid training objectives. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but with practice you’ll start to get the hang of it! Don’t rush it. Write your objectives and then look at them with a critical eye, testing against each of the criteria above.

It’s much easier to gauge the success of your training workshop when you can actually measure against the objectives set for the participants.