Using Learning Objectives in your e-assessments

Cirrus Assessment Support Team -

Working with Learning Objectives

Within the Cirrus platform you can easily add Learning Objectives to any item to help you create assessments that include the correct question criteria to help evaluate your learners progress and competency levels. Learning Objectives help you to use the right questions to assess or evaluate your learners progress or level.

This article will handle the following topics:

Tip: searching for content based on certain Learning Objective(s) is currently on our Roadmap. Feel free to mail with any questions.

What are Learning Objectives?


A learning objective relates to the ability, skill, attitude, understanding or knowledge that a candidate is expected to learn or achieve at the end of a specific course or instruction. In other words: “that what a student is expected to learn”. [Wiktionary]

Inversely, it describes what an item (a question) aims to assess and can also be used by authors (teachers) to measure how well they’ve succeeded in in teaching their learners on specific topics. [Wikipedia]

So why set Learning Objectives?

It helps both students and teachers to make progress measurable and provide insights on the learning material and learning approach. [See Centre for Teach Excellence].

“Usually an educational objective relates to gaining an ability, a skill, some knowledge, a new attitude et cetera rather than having merely completed a given task.” [Wikipedia].

Setting up Learning Objectives within your organisation

The uniform structuring and the carefully thinking on your organisation's goals and the related Learning Objectives is vital. Depending on the level of granularity they can be shared between colleagues of the same department or on the same subject matter. Also see the article on 'Setting Learning Objectives' by the Center for Teaching Excellence of Cornell University.

Organisation of Learning Objectives in Cirrus:

Management and structuring of Learning Objectives in Cirrus

Cirrus offers you full flexibility when organising your Learning Objectives. They are organised in repositories and grouped in so-called Subjects. Cirrus offers the option to

Read all about this in our article on 'Management of Learning Objectives in Cirrus'. You can build your own structure, bearing in mind the following:

Icon  Level Type  Description
  Repository  Highest level: contains groups of Folders
  Folder [optional] Used to organise subjects, for example educational segment
  Subject  Contains a set of Learning Objectives that share the same context (for example "Biology")
  Category [optional]  Used to organise Learning Objectives within a subject. For instance 'Critical Thinking and problem solving' or 'Level I Biology'.
   Learning Objective The actual goal that can be used to plan, assess and report on. To be assigned to items and used as criteria when assembling your assessments.

Creating your own Learning Objectives: Import versus Manual creation

You can easily import Learning Objectives using an Excel sheet as source file.

Alternatively you can manually create Learning Objectives via Admin > Learning Objectives.

Please note that when manually adding Learning Objectives to a repository you will need to provide a required / mandatory ID for each Learning Objective. This is OK if you’re adding the odd individual Learning Objective, if you need to add more we recommend using the import of Learning Objectives.

Application of Learning Objectives in Cirrus

Adding Learning Objectives to your Items

The Learning Objective(s) is part of the item settings when editing the item. See assigning a Learning Objective to an item.

Creating an assessment using a blueprint: Learning Objectives are required

Note: If your assessments will be created using a blueprint, you will need to assign a Learning Objective and a Taxonomy term to each item that should be included.

Application: using Learning Objectives in your Score Report

Please read all about this in our article on 'Reports: using the the Score Report'.

Evaluating Learning Objectives

A learning objective can only be assessed on the basis of the activity related to the questions (items) linked to that learning objective. You can evaluate this per session (aka booking): for the group of learners that participated in that particular assessment. 

At the individual candidate level, a Score Report can be enabled per exam - giving feedback to candidates and/or their teachers on how well they performed on the specific Learning Objectives within a given assessment. A non performing Learning Objective can mean a change to the educational plan: do I need to teach or explain differently so students will perform better. You can also check the wording of the Learning Objective, to check wether it is it concrete and measurable using for example this checklist by the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you have any questions? First read our FAQ on importing Learning Objectives. If the answer you are looking for is not there, please don not hesitate to mail

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