Instructional Objectives
Designing Training Programs
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Demystifying Training Design
Defining Effective Training Objectives

Copyright © 1997 Claire Belilos, Chic Hospitality Consulting Services
Terms: For reading only. Not to be sold, reprinted,re-written, distributed, re-broadcast, uploaded, or used to conduct training by others without written agreement 

A main guideline in the design of a training program or session is to set aside the
ego, the self, and to direct one's thoughts towards the alter, the other, the trainee or audience; to think in terms of what the trainee(s) will be able to do, demonstrate, or explain by the end of the training.

The only exception to this rule is in the preliminary stage of design, and the subsequent actions you take:

  1. "What do I (as instructor or trainer) want the trainee(s) to be able to do, demonstrate, or explain by the end of the training?"
  2. "What training resources and activities will I use to facilitate learning?"
  3. "How will I measure that the desired change in behaviour took place?"
  4. "What tools and process will I use to evaluate my method of instruction and the training content?"
  5. "What is the best way for me to reinforce learning?".

At this preliminary stage of design, you are the central figure as the planner, decision-maker, trainer, and facilitator. Yet the above cannot be planned until you will have conducted a needs analysis and identified training needs, which are conditional on perceived gaps between a desired and an actual situation, (the measurable or observable performance and behaviour of the trainee/s), which brings us back to the truth that the main protagonists here are the intended trainees and that training takes place only if it is perceived as needed to help those trainees perform as expected.

With this principle in mind, we can now concentrate on the writing of learning objectives - you as a trainer have a training objective in mind (what you want them to be able to do, demonstrate, or explain), which you have already translated into a learning objective when expressing it in terms of trainee behaviour, e.g. instead of planning a training session along the lines "I shall teach them how to set a table"; an effective objective would be : "By the end of a 30-minute training session, the trainees will be able to set a table as described in the restaurant's manual".

Once you have written down the learning objective, you communicate it to the trainees and even write it down clearly on a white board, inviting comments, queries or questions.

There are several important points to note in the above-quoted learning objective:

  1. The training (learning) objective is performance-based
  2. The objective is clear and not subject to misinterpretations - the trainees know exactly what is expected of them and how they will be tested
  3. The shift and onus for learning is upon the trainees themselves
  4. The training lesson is action-oriented (an active verb is used) "will be able to set" that guides the learning process (method) and will demonstrate whether the lesson has been learned
  5. The end-result is observable and measurable.

The very wording of the learning objective obligates you as trainer to plan a training session that will include:

  • An explanation and a demonstration by the trainer or an experienced trainee
  • Learner activities (active involvement by the participants, (rehearsals)
  • Providing learning aids to the participants (a list, restaurant manual, a table, the required linen, utensils, condiments, etc.)
  • The training will take place in a simulated work setting or actual work area
  • The preparation of an evaluation tool for the actual performance of each trainee - in this case, a check list based on the restaurant manual, which can be objectively used by anyone, including the trainees, to evaluate results
  • A time-frame has been set
  • A clear, objective, measurable, observable, and reasonable criterion has been set and communicated for congruent testing (in line with the training that took place).

By the nature of the subject chosen, reinforcing learning (follow-up) will take place on the actual work site and while the trainees are actually performing the lesson learned, enabling the trainer to perform follow-up "on-site" evaluations.

Before we wrap up, let us note the three learning domains, which have their own hierarchies:

 *   Cognitive (knowledge, retention)
 *   Affective  (behaviour, attitude)
 *   Psychomotor (skill performance).

The above example is predominantly psychomotor in nature (performing a skill, (combining operations) but also includes a great element of cognitive learning (which will be reinforced by explanations on what and why the table is set up in that fashion, accompanied by the written list and manual as "hand-outs") and some degree of affective learning (some aspects of the why, especially as applicable to sanitation, customer expectations, professionalism, esteem, good repute).

Thank you for visiting. We hope you will find value in the free online information provided in our "how to" articles

Copyright © 1997 Claire Belilos   Contact:  
This article is not to be uploaded, sold or distributed in any form or manner or used for commercial purposes without the author's written permission

Input from Kevin Williams, Academic Program Consultant, Rhodes University in South Africa:

"       Thank you for the URL you gave.  I have forwarded this to my Web-based learning colleague. I have also referred him to your site, in particular the explanation you give of your concern for intellectual property rights, something which we are going to need to attend to as well.

"       Let me thank you once again for access to your site and to the page Demystifying Training Design Defining Effective Training Objectives.   As I noted in my first mail I am involved in the training and academic development of lecturers in a mainstream university in South Africa which does not in any way involve itself in training for the hospitality industry.

"       Despite the differences in our purposes your description of the breakdown of the process so succinctly summarised much of the wider reading on the subject, and much of the wordier material I have designed, that although it is not directly applicable (being more psychomotor rather than the cognitive / affective we would need, for example) I would like to refer staff with whom I am working to your site, and to this page in particular.
"       My colleagues to whom I mailed the URL to your site have both expressed appreciation for the clarity of your 'unpacking' of the outcomes writing process - a delightful contrast to the bureaucratic wordiness with which we have had to content in most of our officially supplied guidelines! I showed your material to my wife - a professor of ICT in Education, but formerly an IT trainer from the commercial world - and she too was impressed by the neat way in which you put the concepts across.

"       Many thanks and best wishes for your work in the future.  "

Kevin Williams
Academic Development Consultant
Rhodes University
Grahamstown, South Africa
+27 +46 603 8171 

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Claire Belilos, CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services,, specializes in Hospitality, human resources strategies, organizational training and development, Customer Service and problem-solving. She offers "on site", online and distance consulting and coaching.  She creates job, training and evaluation tools, and custom-tailored solutions to people management problems.  List yourself to be advised of the new venue of her unique Customer Service Viewpoints Forum at
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