Sticky Objectives

I’ve been working recently converting training/learning objectives to “sticky objectives,” and I’d like to share a few thoughts with you. As most of us know, good instructional objectives are essential for effective training and evaluation. A couple of points about instructional objectives before I continue:

  1. A good instructional objective should include 3 things: 1) the performance (what the trainee should be able to do after the training, 2) the condition (when, ex. “when conducting a performance evaluation”), and 3) the criteria (how well). If the objective does not contain all three of these elements, it can’t effectively indicate the desired result of the training.

  2. Most instructional objectives are preceded by the this phrase: “at the conclusion of the training, the participant will be able to:”

  3. It may not be useful to share the instructional objectives with the trainees. It may be more helpful to develop instructional objectives for use in the design process with trainers, program sponsors, and other “insiders,” and to write and publish objectives that are focus on specific job performance, such as “conduct an effective performance review,” “use the 6 key functions in Excel,” and “use the Situational Leadership model to identify the appropriate mix of direction and support for an employee”…. for use with trainees in the learning events. In my experience, many trainees are intimidated or just don’t relate well with instructional objectives (some trainers too, but that’s a different issue).


  1. What is the purpose or point of the training and of the training objectives? Is it to demonstrate knowledge or a skill or possibly even an attitude change at the end of the training? In most cases, the answer to this question is “no.” The purpose of most training is for trainees to apply certain knowledge, skills or attitudes to their jobs so that their performance is more effective in specific, targeted ways.

So if the purpose of the training is for trainees to use certain skills in their job performance,

  1. The objectives should be written to describe what trainees should be able to do, on the job, after the training. If we look at instructional objectives from this perspective, the performance, conditions, and criteria may not change. What will change, though, is the statement that precedes the objectives: “at the conclusion of the training, the participants will be able to….” Instead substitute “in their job performance, the participants will….” Remember, our focus should be on what they will do, not what they can or will be able to do.

Until Next Time…

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