Learning Objectives

You will need to develop at least 3 learning objectives for your experience in direct collaboration with your site supervisor. Documentation of the learning objectives must be completed in Handshake in the Basic Information section. If you have questions or need further direction, please review the materials below and then contact the Center for Career Development.

How to Write Effective Learning Objectives

Measurable learning objectives – what, why and how?

What do we mean by measurable learning objectives?

  • Measurable learning objectives refer to a set of statements which clearly and precisely describe what it is that you intend to accomplish during your work term.

Why have learning objectives in an internship or co-op program?

  • Internships and Cooperative education are primarily academic programs. It is designed to enhance your education. Learning objectives are one of the most effective methods yet devised to assess the extent and value of this learning.

How do you develop and write your learning objectives?

  • Start by reviewing your career objectives and the internship or co-op opportunity. Give consideration to new skills that can be gained, good work habits that can be established and attitudes that can be examined. Avoid broad, general objectives and try to confine them to those which can be accomplished during the term.

Measurable learning objectives should contain three kinds of information.

  1. A statement of what you expect to achieve through your work experience.
  2. An indication of the level of achievement which you expect to obtain, expressed wherever possible in numerical terms (i.e. increase speed by 15%).
  3. Identification of the method of evaluation to be used (as rated by my supervisor, etc.).

When writing effective Learning Objectives, Remember SMART:

Examples of measurable learning objectives.

Measurable learning objectives
Poor Objectives Acceptable Objectives
I will try to do better in accomplishing tasks assigned by date due. I will learn to manage time better by listing priorities with tasks assigned and scheduling dates to be accomplished.
Become a better salesperson Increase my sales by 10% while keeping complaints at or below their present level as judged by the sales manager.
Become a more productive employee. Improve my speed and accuracy by 10% in processing applications for loans as evaluated by my supervisor.

Instructions and suggestions for objectives preparation.

As soon as you are accepted for an internship or co-op experience and know what organization you will be working for, you may want to follow these steps.

  1. Walk around your training stations and observe everything that is happening, all the employees, and physical nature of things, the attitude of people, and the training station generally. Also, consider your classroom work, studies, labs, and school activities.
  2. Without finding fault with others, think of as many ways as possible that you could help improve some item or attitude at your job or at school.
  3. Divide them into the following categories:

    • Things that are new to you, but apply to your present or future interests (skills acquisition).
    • People, things, and attitudes and general feelings you hear, see, feel, or observe (human relationships).
    • Things that you know about, but with more practice you could be more comfortable with (skills application).
    • A specific activity or duty that your immediate supervisor wants you to work on (job implementation).
    • Things you just cannot quite put into a section with which you would like to work.
  4. Contact your faculty advisor, immediate supervisor and/or Center for Career Development to assist you in determining your objectives.
  5. Take one section at a time and try to form as many of the ideas as possible into a single idea (use “Learning Objectives Form”) to complete your objectives.
    For example, if you are working with human relations, your thoughts might include:

    • Grouchy people
    • Hard sounding memos or bulletin boards
    • Gossip
    • You couldn't find supervisors
    • Late for work
    Your objectives might read like this:

    • Sample objective : During this quarter I will develop the practice of talking and writing pleasantly.
    • How : I will keep a small notebook in my pocket and as I take a break, have lunch, or have a free moment, I will jot down how I have reacted to various situations during the day.
    • Measurement : I will review my notebook with my supervisor during each evaluation and during my final report to see how I have improved.
    You probably did not hit on all of the ideas specifically, but by solving the communication problem, you may have found ways of working with all the ideas.
  6. Do This with each of the five or six areas and you will have completed your objectives.
  7. Test each objective by asking these questions:

    • Is the objective reasonable? (too hard or too easy?)
    • Is the objectives achievable? (can it be completed during the term?)
    • Is the objective measurable? (will you know when you are through?

    Now that you have your objectives written, your next step is to fill out the Learning Objectives Worksheet and submit it to your faculty advisor and immediate supervisor before you begin your internship or co-op. If you have questions, please contact Center for Career Development.

Other Suggestions

It is also suggested that you, for your personal benefit, also consider the following activities.

  • Attire - Before reporting on-the-job, you should make it a point to ask the employer the dress standards expected of you.
  • Correspondence - A copy of all correspondence with the employer and/or the college should be maintained by you in your personal Internship/Co-op file.
  • Co-op/Intern Work Report - A daily brief, but well kept diary will help immeasurably in writing the end-of-period Co-op/Intern Work Report when you must reflect on and evaluate your experience. It would be advisable for you to retain a copy of this report.
  • Employer “Thanks” - A letter to the employer expressing thanks for the opportunity provided (to be forwarded one week after completing the work experience).
  • Remember -- You are a college student and your employer is expecting more of you than an average employee. Your assignment will offer you many opportunities to sell yourself to management. Ask yourself often, “Am I demonstrating, by my participation, that I possess personal qualifications for future leadership?” Your appearance and conduct should always be in accord with the nature and the requirements of the environment.

Adapted from Mercer University Co-op Manual

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