Leading an Effective Intern Prep Course (IPC)

Mentor Guide: Developing Learning Objectives

Key Learning Points

  • High-quality learning objectives are necessary to a successful teaching session.
  • When providing feedback, keep in mind these common pitfalls in developing learning objectives:
    • Lack of specificity in learning objectives
    • Attempting to achieve too many objectives for the time allotted
    • Using vague, low-impact action verbs:  discuss, talk about, review
    • Misaligning action verbs with expected or feasible outcome of session

1. Overview

Using the principles of developing effective learning objectives covered in this module, residents develop or revise learning objectives tailored toward their planned session.

As a faculty mentor, you will provide feedback on these learning objectives to enhance resident educator skills and to guide course content.

Residents can be provided with a rough draft of session learning objectives, learning objectives of past instructors, or can develop their own learning objectives from scratch.

"When we make progress and get better at something, it is inherently motivating. In order for people to make progress, they have to get feedback and information on how they're doing."  -Dan Pink


 

2. Guiding Principles

Developing high-quality learning objectives is key to any successful teaching session.  Please review how to develop learning objectives here to guide your feedback to resident educators.

When providing feedback, keep in mind learning objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) and include the specific audience, behavior, conditions and degree of competency (ABCD) desired.

Bloom’s taxonomy can be used to align action verbs with the intended cognitive level learners are expected to achieve after the session.

Providing Feedback

When providing feedback, keep in mind these common pitfalls in developing learning objectives:

  • Lack of specificity in learning objectives
  • Attempting to achieve too many objectives for the time allotted
  • Using vague, low-impact action verbs:  discuss, talk about, review
  • Misaligning action verbs with expected or feasible outcome of session

Feedback Examples: 

Consider the constructive feedback you would provide to a resident educator on the following learning objectives for a session on. Expand each item to view an example of feedback.

  1. List common causes of chest pain.
    • Ensure ‘list’ is congruent with planned assessment.
    • Consider making this statement more specific by indicating how many causes of chest pain the learner is to list and whether they should prioritize acute or life-threatening causes of chest pain.
    • Consider specifying if the patient is an outpatient, inpatient, or in the emergency department.
       
  2. Identify a standardized approach to basic ECG interpretation, focusing on acute coronary syndrome as well as common arrhythmias.
    • “Practice” or “demonstrate” may be  more appropriate, if it aligns with your planned class activities and assessment method.
    • Consider splitting this into two objectives: one to identify the ECG findings associated with acute coronary syndrome and one addressing common arrhythmias.
    • Specify the common arrhythmias you expect them to identify.
       
  3. Assess ECGs confidently and efficiently.
    • Consider a clearer action verb.  For example, ‘diagnose’, or ‘demonstrate’.
    • Enumerate the conditions you expect them to identify on ECG.

3. Wrap Up

High-quality learning objectives are necessary to an effective teaching session.  Keeping in mind the principles of effective learning objectives, provide positive and constructive feedback on the draft objectives your resident educators submitted.