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Three types of learning objective

When planning practical work it is important to have a clear idea of what we want students to achieve.

Millar (2009) usefully groups learning objectives for practical work into three broad categories:

To help students:

A. develop their knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

B. learn how use a piece of scientific equipment or follow a standard practical procedure.

C. develop their understanding of the scientific approach to enquiry.


Choose one of the three practical activities you have just watched, and write an example of a learning objective/success criteria for each category of learning objective.

Share your suggestions by posting your ideas in the comments below. Be clear which practical you are providing suggestions for.

Compare another person’s post to your own, where do you offer differing and similar learning objectives and success criteria?

We’ve provided a template [Word] to help you think about the three categories for learning objectives.

A table to complete learning objectives and success criteria for A, B and C

Take a look at our example [PDF].

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Biology

National STEM Learning Centre