I recently spoke with a client of mine who is head of professional development of the real estate commission in her state and primary role is to approve or disapprove continuing education courses. Each year she must stamp an estimated 1000 courses per year for approval or send them back for revisions.  If you divided 1000 courses by 240 (12 months x 20 work days per month) that equates to approximately 4 courses per day she must review in addition to other responsibilities in her job description.

To approve or disapprove 1000 courses per year isn’t regulation.  It’s insanity!

The reason why a regulator receives so many courses for approval is because it is super easy to submit a continuing education course by writing activity driven objectives rather than take the time to attach metrics to each objective and measure the performance on how it improves the consumers’ condition.

Let me explain the differences between an activity driven objective and a result driven objective.

Activity driven objective

This learning objective starts with the action words list, create, recall, describe, define, perform, etc.  The sentence is geared towards doing more things rather than improving the existing condition.

Example.  List the steps to create a consumer oriented video and post it online.

Result driven objective

This objective is outcome driven beyond completing a task, a series of steps, or an assignment.  The result driven objective states that as a result a condition will be improve, an outcome will be impacted, or something will be removed.

Example.  Decrease the cost of home ownership for consumers by using video tutorials.

The difference is between the activity (how) and the result (what) is that there is a metric attached to result driven objective.  When you combine the what and the how you can not only educate participants on how to perform a task but you can improve performance by adding a quantifiable result.

One of the best resources on how to create result driven objectives is Robert Mager’s Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction.

But, why don’t most schools and instructors write result driven learning objectives?

#1 one must learn how to do this.  Makes you wonder who trains the trainers?

#2 it takes more time and thought to write performance based curriculum.

#3 the cost of education would go up because it takes more resources to create performance curriculum.

I would imagine if schools and instructors were required to write result driven objectives and hold their participants accountable that 1000 course approvals per year would be sliced in half or more.

As a result:

  • Consumers’ condition would improve because participants would receive performance based service.
  • Better quality training for participants that measures performance.
  • Reduction in the number of theory based, activity driven, and academia oriented courses.
  • Decrease labor intensity for the regulators on approving poor quality courses.


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