Using the S-M-A-R-T model to set learning goals: Step 1 - The S-M-A-R-T model

Having clear learning objectives for your training program helps you in three ways:

  1. It helps you to make decisions about the learning content you need

  2. It helps you to clarify what your trainees need to be able to do at the end of the training program

  3. It helps you to decide how best to evaluate the results of the training


Creating clear learning goals can be done in three steps:


Step 1 - Set Global Learning Goals

clarify what trainees can do at the end of the course.

Step 2 - Clarify the required performance level

clarify what level of performance you require at the end of training

[see Set Learning Goals for Training; Step 2- Clarify the required performance level]

Step 3 – Create specific training objectives

provide more detail about the global learning goals.

[see Set Learning Goals for Training; Step 3 - Create specific training objectives]


Step 1: Set Global Learning Goals:

This states what trainees must be able to do after the training program. The SMART model works well when stating your global learning goals or objectives.


Specific: Clearly state what the trainee will learn. Measurable: Ensure the results can be measured. Achievable: Trainees must believe the training objectives can be achieved Realistic: Trainees must be able to achieve the objectives using the training program. Timely: The training must have a realistic timeframe.


For example:

At the end of the course, the trainees will be able to proactively participate in business conference calls using professional English.

[This is an example of a well-designed global learning objective.]


Specific: Yes. It clearly states what the trainees must be able to do after the program.
 Measurable: Yes. Trainees can be assessed on their ability using assessment rubrics. Achievable: Yes. Trainees will accept this objective because it is achievable.

Realistic: Yes. The objective is realistic because it is specific. Timely: Yes. The objective includes a time frame – ‘at the end of the course’.


Another example:

The trainees will improve their business English.

[This is an example of a poorly-designed global learning objective.]


Specific: No. This isn’t a specific objective. It is much too general.

Measurable: No. This isn’t measurable. We can't measure such a general objective. How

can a trainee demonstrate improvement with such a general objective?

Achievable: No. Trainees will find it difficult to accept that they should ‘improve their

business English’ in one program. Realistic: No. This learning objective is unrealistic because it isn’t specific or measurable

and because the trainee’s won’t be motivated by such a general learning objective. Timely: No. There is no time frame for achieving this learning objective.

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