Analysis Day 3: The Objectives

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Now that the main body of the work has been accomplished, we need to identify the objectives. This outlines specific goals for the training session. What do we need to specifically accomplish? Well, let's find out.

The Learning Objective
The learning objective outlines the problem, the results, the environment and conditions for success, and the resources available for success. What's more, this is all in one sentence, so the use of commas are encouraged. It's through these objectives that your overall success can be measured by, and therefore how to determine if the training was worthwhile. This doesn't include evaluation methods, though they are closely related to this process. We will cover that in a later section.

So it is important that we identify what exactly identifies success. This is defined by the Input (problem) and the Output (results). The Input presents the issues that the training module is going to address, and is generally linked to the inability to perform the task at hand.

The Output outlines the ability to perform the task within the set measureable guidelines required by the training. These can be satisfaction, performance, productivity, or safety guidelines. Just anything that measures success for the learner.

Following that, the Aids (resources) and Conditions need to be recognized. Aids identify the experience or needs that the learner requires to perform the task. For example, an aid would be a diagram showing how to insert the key into the ignition. In other words, it can be reference material, access to support staff, and anything else that can assist with the performance of the task.

The Conditions outline the limiting factors within the performance of the job. If an Internet connection is required, and may not be 100% reliable, that needs to be taken into account. If access to the key locker is necessary, that needs to be taken into account. Basically, all factors not related to knowledge and skill are outlined here in order to set a reasonable expectation. If someone doesn't have the correct tools, you can expect them to perform the task.

Once the sections have been outlined (I do this in the Task analysis document, directly above the inserted table), the objective can be created. So let's outline the sections!

The Input and Output
First we need to define what the problem is for this task going into training, and what we expect to get out of it. For instance, if we start the training with the idea that our taxi driver doesn't know how to start the car, we would assume that after the end of this module the driver can now start the car while meeting all performance guildelines. That is an example of input and output. Here is how you can write it:

INPUT: The driver is unable to use the key to start the ignition.
OUTPUT: The driver is now able to start the ignition using the automobile's key to the extent that customer satisfaction and proper use guidelines have been met.

So what do we have here? We have the beginning and the end of the learning objective! That's right, we can actually copy and paste this into the learning objective, which saves a lot of typing. Finally! A short cut!

Aids and Conditions
I format my aids and conditions in a similar manner. While continuing with the example:

AIDS: Access to automobile manual, keys to the vehicle, and support staff.
CONDITIONS: Assuming the vehicle is in good maintenance, the driver is already licensed, and is familiar with the vehicle in question.

Here we have the center portion of the learning objective. Again, we can copy and paste this directly into the objective, which will save us a lot of heartache (and sore hand joints) in the long run. But how does it all go together?

Putting It All Together
It's time to look at the whole application of this work. Here is how it should look in your Task analysis document:

Task A: Starting The Vehicle
INPUT: The driver is unable to use the key to start the ignition.
OUTPUT: The driver is now able to start the ignition using the automobile's key to the extent that customer satisfaction and proper use guidelines have been met.
AIDS: Access to automobile manual, keys to the vehicle, and support staff.
CONDITIONS: Assuming the vehicle is in good maintenance, the driver is already licensed, and is familiar with the vehicle in question.

So we have our task, we have the problem stated, the expectations, the resources, and the conditions that are outlined. So let's put it togeter into the Learning Objective!

The learning objective would be formatted this way:

Given [input] and [conditions] with [aids], the learner will be able to [output].

For our example, it would look like this:
Given the driver is unable to use the key to start the ignition and assuming the vehicle is in good maintenance, the driver is already licensed, and is familiar with the vehicle in question with access to automobile manual, keys to the vehicle, and support staff, the learner will be able to start the ignition using the automobile's key to the extent that customer satisfaction and proper use guidelines have been met.

Yes, it's one long sentence and it's probably not formatted correct grammatically, but it outlines each of the important steps in the training process. We finally have an objective that is specific enough to keep us on topic while developing and designing the material. But before we can get that done, we have one final step: The Assessment Methods.

Assessment or Testing
Yes, you need to test your learners in some manner to be sure they are learning what you are trying to teach them. No matter how well you think you are doing, chances are you have lost someone that is too afraid to speak up. And if you have lost one person, you probably have a few others that are just barely keeping up. Assessments are necessary in determining their success, and whether or not you are teaching properly. If you lose a lot of students, it's time to rethink your approach.

In order to evaluate someone's abilities in the most efficient manner, the best thing is to create an environment as close to the actual performing environment as possible. No matter what other instructors (or even professors) may think, Multiple Choice doesn't do this. The real evaluation method is in practice.

That being said, if it's not possible, or economically feasible, to do so then alternative assessment methods can be used. After all, all certification classes (with a few exceptions) are multiple choice tests. This posting isn't meant to be a discussion on the virtues of each evaluation method, so you need to decide what is best for you.

When it comes to your Assessment methods, I would have at least three options selected: one for Tactile learners (hands on), one for Auditory learners (written exams), and one for Visual learners (presentations). This gives you a general pool to pull from while designing the course, and will give you a lot of flexibility on future implementations. For instance, when I created training curriculum for a certain company I worked for previously, I outlined assessment methods for both online and in class training. I envisioned a number of alternatives the instructor could implement, and therefore created possibliities for future development.

Putting it All Together
The Learning Objectives and testing methods I place on the same document, being separated from the Task analysis. This document is then used in conjunction with the task analysis to create the learning materials, and design methods for each training module. As a quick tip, if you notice that a lot of your material is the same for each task, use your copy and paste option. It's an ideal solution for sore fingers.

Finally, we have finished Analysis! The next session in the ADDIE series will be Development. Fortunately, it's not nearly as long as the analysis section, and a lot more fun!