Postdoctoral Dental Education

Professional Life-Long Learning Plan

Step 2: Linking Objectives with Learning Activities and Evaluation
Step 4: Evidence of accomplishment

Step 1: Developing Learning Objectives

Developing Competency-Based Learning Objectives

Residents should write a list of objectives to specify outcomes of learning in terms of behaviors, which the learner at the end of the rotation (or program) would be able to demonstrate. Learning objectives are statements of specific tasks or behaviors that students should be able to perform after participating in a lecture, course of study or set of learning activities. Well-framed learning objectives serve to help the individualized learner identify an approach to organizing his or her learning activities, content, and self-evaluation methods.

To be useful objectives should contain three basic elements:

  1. A verb that describes an observable action
  2. A description of the conditions under which the action takes place
  3. The acceptable performance level

Learning objectives are NOT statements of topics to be covered (as in Example 1), NOT statements of learning activities, and NOT statements about the teaching methods. Some verbs are better than others for use in communicating intended learner behaviors. Avoid the words 'appreciate', 'understand', 'know' - replace these words with statements about what you will ask the learner to do to demonstrate knowledge or understanding.

Behavioral outcomes are categorized into the three traditional domains:

Ask your self the question: What do I need to do to demonstrate that I have achieved the objective? In the table below are the tree learning areas, levels and verbs, which have been found useful in descriptions of objectives.