A lot has been said about training objectives and their use. What has been evident is that without clearly defined objectives your training and delivery of training is ineffective and without purpose, certainly so to those on the receiving end. This week I will focus on the issue training objectives. First of all let us look at what the purpose of training objectives is when designing a course.
Having clearly defined objectives assists in a number of ways some of which are:
They help you in the design stage
They provide a “road map” for your trainees
They assist in the marketing your training programmes.
So what it effectively means is that without objectives when you start to design training, you have no idea what it is you need to train. Indeed, if you have carried out a training needs analysis, the objectives will already be written for you.
Once you have the objectives and having already designed your training, the objectives are used to outline to the trainees what it is they are going to learn whilst attending or using the training material.
Objectives will assist you as the trainer to identify if you have achieved your training goal as you can check against them to find out if the trainees can now do what it is you set out to train them in.
How then are objectives structured?
In training, objectives need to have a particular structure in order for them to be functional and informative. The language you use when writing them provides a level of confidence in you the trainer from your participants.
In order for the objectives to fulfil their role in the design of a training programme they are supposed to be SMART which stands for:
To begin with, you need to identify what your trainees are going to be able to do after the training. There is need to break down what you are training into sections in order for each to fit together in a logical order so that altogether they make up the whole.
Another rule of objectives is that you do not want more than six objectives for a training session.
If there are more than six then break the session into sections and deal with some of the objectives and in the next session the remainder.
It is advisable to use verbs (doing words) so as to assist in conveying this. A term such as “understand” is not SMART! because one cannot measure if someone understands something without testing them. For instance, if you were to ask someone, “Do you understand what a bicycle is?” nine out of ten times the answer you get will be “Yes”.
However, there is usually no demonstration of their understanding of what a bicycle is. However, if you would ask someone to explain what a bicycle is, that is when you are able to have an understanding of their knowledge.
It is then strongly recommended to use words like, demonstrate, explain, list, make, conduct, deliver etc. because all these words are measurable. They are achievable and realistic and they are normally tailored with a time element within them.
How then can objectives be used?
Once the trainer has taken the time to write objectives, they must be used.
They should form part of the opening of your training session where you inform your trainees what it is they are going to learn or be able to do after the training. It forms level four of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — self-esteem. You are telling them that they will achieve something by the end of the training session.
They should be shown to the trainees either on a flipchart or using PowerPoint software. At the end of the training they can be revisited in order to check with the trainees show that they have been covered.
Objectives can be used to sell your courses. It tells the consumers of the course what it is they are going to benefit by attending the course and if it is the correct course to fit their training need.
Objectives must be kept simple and short. So without objective, you will never get to your intended destination in training.
Paul Nyausaru is a training and development practitioner. You can contact him on email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com