Discussion of “learning objectives” and “measurable outcomes” is common across educational settings. In many of the conversations you might have come across already, the debate is around how to write objectives, measure and align them. In the course design process, establishing learning objectives is a common starting point; they are the core of a syllabus, a course, a learning experience.

But do learning objectives deserve this central place in our construction of education? To kick off EPIC, we will read and discuss a few positions that debate the value of  learning objectives, especially ones that you state explicitly for your students. We ourselves have been wondering, as Gardner Campbell puts it, if our obsession over learning objectives is leading our students “toward compliance and away from more elusive and disruptive concepts like curiosity or wonder.”  

Read + Discuss

Choose one sentence or idea that is surprising to you, and one that is affirming to you from these readings/watchings. Post them in our #5-read-discuss  channel in Slack, along with any other reflections you’d like to share. Please limit your initial post to fewer than 10 sentences and be sure to respond to your colleagues.

Case Study:

This week, we’ll explore how EPIC alum Jaclyn Bergamino welcomed the objectives and objections tension into her WRTG-211 course. Explore the case study here, then share your thoughts on our #case-study channel  in Slack.

Build Something:

Before next Wednesday, complete one of the “build” options and share a link/file + 2-sentence reflection in our #6-builds channel in Slack.  


Write a letter or make a video for your students about why you’re here, teaching this course, and where you hope to go with them from here. While you may use any tool for letter writing (by hand, then scanned to digital?), we recommend trying Google Docs for maximum sharing capability. Here’s a short video to help you get started with Docs if you’re not familiar already. If you’d like to turn your message into a video (great for instructor presence!), we recommend the UAF-supported tool, Kaltura Personal Capture.

PURPOSE: This letter/video should ultimately go into your course where students can find it on their first day.


Write or rewrite 5 course learning objectives that are easy to understand (no complex language or sentence structure) and that will make readers excited to engage. Bonus points for adding at least one objective that is aspirational (as opposed to achievable and measurable).

PURPOSE: These objectives should ultimately go into your syllabus.


Who’s Talking

Want to keep exploring this topic? Try following these thinkers on Twitter:

Gardner Campbell: @GardnerCampbell

Sundi Richard: @sundilu

Maha Bali: @Bali_Maha