How S.M.A.R.T. are Your Learning Objectives?
Pedagogy in Practice
By Catherine Ford
Learning objectives are foundational to course design and assessment of student learning. Even if you have taught a course for numerous years or if you are new to a course this term, it is important to ask if the learning objectives are S.M.A.R.T.
Instructors and students alike use stated learning objectives. Instructors use these objectives to align, plan, instruct, and assess. When combined with Bloom’s taxonomy, S.M.A.R.T. objectives “help educators focus and specify what they intend to teach, assess, and offer as feedback for the learner.” Students use learning objectives to identify expectations and relevance, focus, and plan.
It is valuable to draw attention specifically to the measurable component of S.M.A.R.T. objectives. What would a student have to do to show they have met the objective? How will you measure this? Learning objectives need to include an action that is observable and specific. Consider these learning objectives:
- Learners will understand plagiarism.
- Learners will know the cell cycle.
- Learners will learn soft skills for patient interactions.
These learning objectives have room for improvement against the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. Verbs such as understand, know, or learn are especially ambiguous and difficult to measure. Reflecting on the above objectives, ask these questions: Are these objectives specific? How will you measure them? Are they attainable within an identified time frame? Are they aligned within the rest of the course to provide relevance?
When rewriting these learning objectives to be S.M.A.R.T., first consider Bloom’s Taxonomy and the suggested verbs for each level of the hierarchy. Select verbs such as describe, illustrate, and demonstrate to replace ambiguous verbs. Add additional information to make the objective more specific while confirming it includes only one action verb. When addressing attainment and time frame, remember that these may be influenced on whether the statement is intended as a course, unit, or individual lesson objective.
Consider the revised learning objectives:
- Learners will describe the differences between summarizing and plagiarizing.
- Learners will illustrate the phases of a cell cycle.
- Learners will demonstrate soft skills for patient interactions during clinic simulations.
As part of reviewing your learning objectives against S.M.A.R.T. criteria, pay particular attention to measurement, reflecting on the assessment associated with the corresponding learning objective. Does the measurement align with the objective? If you identify that students will describe differences, this likely cannot occur in a multiple choice test and is a mismatch. Describing also does not take place when choosing between examples of summaries and examples of plagiarism. Instead, students may be asked to write a paragraph or a brief essay describing the differences. It is important to confirm that you do not have a mismatch between an objective and an assessment.
To learn more about S.M.A.R.T. learning objectives and Bloom’s taxonomy, consider registering for one of the following NED short courses:
- Designing Your Course for Student Learning
- Assessment of Student Learning
- Improving Online Assessments
Or review these additional resources:
- Are Your Lesson-level Learning Objectives S.M.A.R.T.?
- Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Write Effective Learning Objectives
Actionable Insights from Video Analytics
Academic Technology Tips
By Brock Behling
We regularly gain insight from traditional data points when teaching. We can either continue with our current pedagogy, rethink our strategies or actually make adaptation through action. With digital media analytics, we can leverage new data to evaluate learner engagement and interactions with shared content, and use this as supplemental feedback in our teaching.
We know from educational video engagement research that videos between 6-12 minutes have a better chance of being fully viewed than longer videos. This evidence can be an opportunity to redesign lessons that share short videos with important content at the beginning. This may require practice and some post-production edits to succinctly present information. Many traditional lectures often put their most important content in the middle but this is when viewer attention appears to fade in video presentations.
Some ways to emphasize important learning content include:
- Breaking up presentations and subtopics by strategically stopping continuous recordings
- Improving the indexing of content with chaptering and correcting captions
- Offering additional details or examples for review at the end, or in a separate recording
These steps can help ensure that your learners are exposed to the content that you believe is most important. The average video length in our educational MediaSpace site is about 27 minutes/video, but our average viewing time is only 13 minutes/view. Keeping the video short and focused can offer the best chance for completion.
Another option is to use Zoom’s new highlight feature. This can be used to emphasize what you feel is the most important content in the recording. Individuals can choose to only watch the highlights, or if they need more examples or context, they can watch the video in its entirety.
With Kaltura’s detailed analytics, you can explore additional data to help inform design. Kaltura shares an impression count to show how visible your materials are after distribution. It also has an engagement timeline to show exactly where in the video the viewers started and stopped watching. Diving deeper into the analytics allows you to see the device overview to inform you of how individuals are viewing your content.
We have seen that videos that are directly associated with assignments or assessments have generally seen higher engagement statistics. Finding ways to explicitly share and clarify how the content aligns with the learning objective in your course and program can help encourage better attentiveness to the provided materials.
By further identifying how students are accessing content, we can potentially identify barriers that may be preventing interactions with the content.
Our highest activity comes from individuals using Windows devices with Chrome browsers, but we do have a large number of Mac users as well. Mobile devices are still sparsely used to view our educational video content at this point. Promoting KMS GO, Kaltura’s mobile application to learners, may provide new opportunities for students to access media on-the-go and enhance learner reach. Monitoring usage statistics for your particular content can help you gain insight into how and when students are engaging with your media.
Zoom also has summary analytics for cloud recordings. These can provide a brief summary of views, how much of the resource viewers watched, and if there were any downloads of the content.
This can be helpful to gauge video relevancy by showing trends of a particular asset.
Highly watched content can be indicative of perceived valuable content or perhaps complex materials that require multiple playback attempts. High abandonment rates may show that some of the content being distributed is not being fully accessed by the learners.
Get better acquainted with D2L Brightspace with a variety of webinars
Did You Know?
By Megan Babel
All educational development opportunities on the NED Events Calendar are designed by Minnesota State faculty and staff for Minnesota State faculty and staff, and are sponsored by the Educational Innovations unit at the system office.
At the beginning of each term, Educational Innovations summarizes upcoming opportunities and webinars with flyers for faculty to print or share. However, throughout the term, webinars are continuously added including a wide variety of D2L Brightspace webinars that cover tried-and-true features, new features, and helpful tips and tricks to help our colleagues get the most out of our learning management system.
Look for these D2L Brightspace webinars being added this October and register:
- Overview of Accommodations and Special Access in D2L Brightspace
- What’s New in Evaluating with Discussions
- Discussion Date Setting Changes in Brightspace
- Quick Eval tool in D2L Brightspace
- Pulse App for Increased Student Engagement
- Communicating with Students via Intelligent Agents in D2L Brightspace
- Demystifying the Gradebook
- Calculating Grades in the Gradebook in D2L Brightspace
- Awards and Certificates in D2L Brightspace
- Create materials with HTML and HTML Content templates
- Quiz Submission Views
- Copy Courses & Manage Dates
Be sure to check the NED Events Calendar, or look for the Upcoming Events emails sent on Thursdays that feature an overview of the next week’s events. Contact Megan Babel if you would like to receive Upcoming Events emails.