Dividing Your Syllabus into Modules and Learning Objectives

A learning module is simply a “chunk” of the course aligned with a specific set of learning objectives. Learning Objectives are expectations of what students should know or be able to do, how and under what conditions this knowledge or skill will be demonstrated and the criteria to determine success. These learning objectives are a subset of all of the learning objectives for the entire course. 

We recommend the use of modules instead of a traditional chronological syllabus because it allows you to build revision into your syllabus (open-ended assignments, TBD weeks or units allow you to make modifications as the semester progresses without compromising your authority), flexibility, and the ability to accommodate synchronous and asynchronous learning.

As a first step, determine the Learning Objectives for the entire course. Then, use the objectives to order the assessments, learning activities and interactions. Finally, use the objectives to create learning modules designed to support student achievement of these objectives. A good place to start is this learning objectives builder form Arizona State University.

Learning Objectives should be:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable/Observable;
  • Attainable for target audience within scheduled time and specified conditions;
  • Relevant and results-oriented;
  • Targeted to the learner and to the desired level of learning (Doran, 1981).

In general, Learning Objectives should have these four components:

  • A measurable verb;
  • The important condition under which the performance is to occur;
  • The criterion of acceptable performance;
  • The time-frame for achievement.

Learning Objectives focus on these three domains:

  • Cognitive: knowledge, intellectual skills;
  • Affective: attitudes, interests, feelings, values, adjustments;
  • Psychomotor: motor and manipulations skills.

Consider the following template for Learning Objectives:
After (the training period, semester, module, interaction with content) the learner will be able to (perform an action, analysis or demonstration) under the following conditions (individually, in a group, in writing, orally) with a specified degree of proficiency (criteria for success).

The West Chester University of Pennsylvania has developed an easy to use guide to support instructors in their development of modules. Please see this link for their step-by-step guidance.