Course Design Review Standards with Annotations: Learning Objectives

Instructional Technology has developed Course Design Review Standards (CDRS) to be used in the development of online and blended courses at St. Edward’s University. These standards are based on best practices in course design and rubrics developed by the Online Learning Consortium and the Open SUNY Course Quality Review. The standard is listed with annotations below. View the complete Course Design Review Standards.

This page covers standards 14 through 16 which deal with learning objectives.


Learning Objectives

Standard 14: The course learning objectives, or course/program competencies, describe outcomes that are measurable and are suited to the level of the course.

Measurable course learning objectives or learning outcomes clearly describe what learners will learn and be able to do if they successfully complete the course. Course objectives describe desired learner mastery using terms that are specific enough to be measured by the instructor.
Examples of measurable objectives or outcomes:

Upon completion of the course (module/unit), learners will be able to

  1. Select appropriate tax strategies for different financial and personal situations.
  2. Develop a comprehensive, individualized wellness action program focused on overcoming a sedentary life-style.
  3. Demonstrate correct use of personal protective equipment.
  4. Articulate personal attitudes and values related to the use of medical marijuana.
  5. Collaborate on a group project by completing designated tasks and offering feedback to team members on their tasks.

Standard 15:  The module/unit learning objectives are presented and describe outcomes that are measurable, consistent with course learning objectives, and are written from the student’s perspective.

Learning objectives or outcomes at the module level align with and are more specific than course objectives. The module/unit learning objectives describe learner mastery in specific, observable terms and in discrete pieces. The objectives or competencies precisely describe the specific competencies, skills, and knowledge learners are able to master and demonstrate at regular intervals throughout the course. The module objectives may either implicitly or explicitly be aligned with the course-level objectives or competencies. For example, if a course learning objective is “upon completion of this course, learners will demonstrate mastery of presentational speaking”: the module learning objectives might be 1) learners will plan a presentation 2) learners will deliver a presentation.

Standard 16: Learning objectives, activities, and assignments are aligned.

These relationships should be clearly explained in order to provide relevance of learning to the learners (Knowles, 1984). Objectives should address what learners need to know when they complete the module, course, or program, and aligned activities and assessments should showcase how learners have achieved those objectives.

The complete list of CDRS with annotations may be found on these pages:


Open SUNY Course Quality Rubric, Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence and the Online Learning Consortium, Inc.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)