Creating a Lesson Plan

Learning Objectives

By the end of this unit learners will be able to:

  • Write measurable objectives for a training program
  • Write learning objectives that use Blooms Taxonomy to classify learning from the simplest to the most complex
  • Write learning objectives that are tied to needs analysis
  • Select appropriate activities for training objectives
  • Construct a lesson plan using appropriate instructional approaches tied to the needs analysis

Why Write Lesson Plans

  • Core skill for trainers
  • Aids in organization and delivery of lessons
  • Guide for managing the learning environment
  • Leads to more creative lessons

Lesson planning is an important core skill for teachers and trainers, yet many skip this step. This skill will take time to master, but the result will be that your courses and lessons will be better organized, and implementation will go more smoothly. Better organization leads to more effective teaching and in turn, greater learning.

The lesson plan will provide a pathway toward the attainment of the selected learning objectives. It will be your guide to answering the questions, “What are my goals for this lesson?” and “What do I have to do in class to achieve these goals?” This is also the time that teachers can show their creativity, and over time, lessons will be more interesting, and delivered with confidence.

Writing lesson plans does not have to be difficult. In this unit we will look a systematic process to prepare a lesson plan that will help ensure success.

Anatomy of a Lesson Plan

There are three main steps in preparing a lesson plan:

  1. Define the topic and content to be covered. 
  2. List the instructional goals, learning objectives, and materials, and
  3. Plan the instructional and evaluation procedures.

Writing Learning Objectives

Objectives are:

  • Statements which describe what the learner is expected to do after instruction
  • Specific, observable, and measurable learning outcomes

Let’s say the goal is to prepare a lesson for intake personnel on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules, with a focus on the new EHR. All that’s known so far is the content area to be covered in this lesson, but this information says nothing about what students will know, and what the learner is expected to do after instruction. For this information, we need to write learning objectives. Learning objectives define specific, observable, and measurable learning outcomes. What about the HIPAA rules should they know? How will they demonstrate this has been learned? And, how will you measure that learning has occurred?

Objectives Versus Goals

  • Goal
    • Broad, generalized statement about what students will gain from instruction over an entire course or curriculum

  • Objective
    • Specific statement describing what the learner will know or be able to do as a result of engaging in a learning activity

Before we go any further, we should discuss the difference between goals and objectives. These two concepts are often confused; goals are broad, generalized statements about what students will gain from instruction over an entire course or curriculum, but in order to better describe what kind of work is expected in the course and to more easily design assessment, more specific statements of what the learner must “do” are desirable. Therefore objectives are specific statements describing what the learner will know or be able to do as a result of engaging in a learning activity.

Examples of Objectives & Goals

  • Goal
    • Students will learn how to write lesson plans

  • Objective
    • Students will be able to write measurable objectives for a training program

Here are some examples of each. A goal for this unit you are currently taking is: “Students will learn how to write lesson plans.” This tells you why you are taking this unit, but it does not give any information about the specific skills you need to write lesson plans and will gain by completing this lesson. Here’s an actual objective for this lesson: “Students will be able to write measurable objectives for a training program.”

Purpose of Objectives

Objectives are useful for a number of reasons:

  • By plotting where you intend to go, you increase the chances of you and the learner ending up there
  • Guides the teacher; helps with the preparation of assessment tools to measure student achievement
  • Guides the learner; helps him/her focus and set priorities
  • Allows for analysis in terms of the levels of teaching and learning

Anatomy of an Objective

  • A well-written objective statement provides a clear picture of the outcome or performance expected as a result of the lesson.

  • It should be specific, concise, and, measurable.

Let’s focus in on how an objective is constructed. A well-written objective statement provides a clear picture of the outcome or performance expected as a result of the lesson. It should be specific, concise, and, measurable.

  • Behavior
    • The behavior should be specific and observable

  • Condition
    • The conditions under which the behavior is to be completed should be stated, including what tools or assistance is to be provided

  • Standard
    • The level of performance that is desirable should be stated, including an acceptable range of answers that are allowable as correct

An objective statement has three parts, the behavior, the condition and the standard. The behavior describes what the students will be able to do and verbs that are specific and observable should be used. The condition under which the behavior is to be completed should be stated. Including what tools or assistance is to be provided, and the standard indicates the level of performance that is desirable should be stated, including an acceptable range of answers that are allowable as correct

Objective Example

Consider the following objective: given a normal clinical environment and using the new EHR, intake staff will be able to accurately create an electronic chart for all new patients.

This example describes the observable behavior (create electronic chart), the conditions (clinical environment and the new EHR), and the standard (all new patients).
Often, learning objectives ignore the conditions and standards. When omitted, it is assumed that the conditions involve normal workplace conditions, and standards are set at perfection. This is usually acceptable, but written indication of the behavior using measurable or observable verbs must always be included.

Measureable Verbs

To find measureable and observable verbs, we refer to learning taxonomies such as Bloom’s. In the cognitive domain Bloom’s taxonomy identified and defined levels of mental skills from the lowest level of simple recall of facts, through increasingly more complex mental activities. There are six major categories.

An added benefit is that you can use the hierarchy to help you chunk your modules and focus teaching to target the domains and levels of learning.

We can group the six levels of learning into three categories. Level 1 is recall. Recall objectives are at lowest level and involve recall or description of information. The next level up is interpretation and involves application and examination of knowledge. Level 3, or problem-solving skills, test the highest level of learning and involve construction and assessment of knowledge.

Recall Verbs

The following verbs can be used to describe observable recall behaviors.

  • Knowledge: Remembering of previously learned material
    • defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, states

  • Comprehension: Ability to grasp the meaning of material
    • converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives an example, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates

Sample Objective - Recall

Here’s an example of an objective that targets the recall level of learning: “After attending a HIPAA workshop, the student will state the policy on patient confidentiality.”

Interpretation Verbs

The following verbs can be used to describe observable interpretation skills.

  • Application: Ability to use learned material in new situations
    • applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses

  • Analysis: Ability to break down material into its component parts
    • analyzes, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates

Sample Objective - Interpretation

To target interpretation skills, this objective might work, “After attending HIPAA workshop, the student will state the policy on patient confidentiality.”

Problem-Solving Verbs

And, lastly here are verbs you can use fir problem-solving skills.

  • Synthesis: Ability to put parts together to form a new whole
    • categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes

  • Evaluation: Ability to judge the value of learned material
    • appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticizes, critiques, defends, describes, discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets, justifies, relates, summarizes, supports

Sample Objective

A suitable problem-solving objective is, “After attending the new EHR training, the student will modify procedures to accommodate a patient without insurance.”

Let’s consider this example of a task analysis.

The objective here is for the learner to be able to accurately register a new patient in the electronic health record.

Non-Functional Verbs

Often trainers use vague, non-specific, non-measurable verbs to describe behaviors. These should be avoided. These are the most common offenders:

  • Able to
  • Shows interest in
  • Has knowledge of
  • Capable of
  • Learns
  • Memorizes
  • Conscious of
  • Understands
  • Familiar with
Avoid these verbs at all costs.

Objective Checklist

To summarize, after you write objectives check them against these three questions:

  • Does the objective focus on student performance?
  • Is the task measurable or observable?
  • What criteria will I use to establish that the objective has been reached?

Needs Analysis Checklist

Another check should be made against your needs analysis results. Well-conducted organizational, learner, job, task, and instructional analyses should lead directly to the specific skills and knowledge that a training should target. Checking against the results will ensure that nothing was omitted.

EHR Intake Task Analysis

We’ll look at how you would use the result needs analysis to help write objectives, by returning to a previous example. In this example, the task analysis defined the tasks in accurately registering a new patient in the electronic health record. This diagram illustrates a step-by-step process that defines that learning. The three main tasks are:

  • Collect Patient Information
  • Verify Patient Insurance
  • Schedule Appointment

And, these tasks are further broken down into sub-tasks. If you were developing a training session on intake tasks, your training would have to consider these low-level procedural tasks.

Other EHR Intake Skills

But, you may also want to include content to answer the following questions.

If you are training staff to work in the emergency room, what special protocols exist for when there is an emergency and the triage is flooded with new patients?

Or, how do HIPAA privacy and confidentiality affect the patient registration process – factors such as communicating with the patient in a public setting, computer screen orientation, logging out when leaving the computer terminal?

These are all examples of some higher-level knowledge and skills required to ensure that the job tasks are completed adequately, so they would have to be included in the training session.

EHR Intake Learning Objectives

For your lesson on these intake tasks, you may write the following learning objectives:

  • Recall the steps of the intake process.
  • Assist patients who have incomplete information.
  • Select the appropriate registration protocol given the intake environment.
  • Apply HIPAA regulations to the registration process.

Instructional Materials

  • Create a materials list
    • PowerPoint presentation
    • Handouts and/or textbooks
    • Visual aids
    • A/V equipment
    • Computers and software
    • Additional personnel

Create a materials list and add to this as you write your procedure so that you know exactly what you will need for your class to run smoothly. Prepare your PowerPoint presentation, select and prepare your handouts, and make copies. What about the physical space? Do you need computers? Make sure the A/V equipment works and software is installed on computers. Do you need additional personnel to assist you?

Instructional Procedures: Overview

The actual lesson should be broken up into some discrete parts that progress through the steps of introducing new content, allowing for practice and reinforcement of learning, followed by assessment. The steps are:

  • Introduction: Focusing Event
  • Development: Modeling/Explanation Demonstration
  • Practice: Guided/Monitored Activity
  • Independent Practice: Assignments to Measure Progress
  • Checking For Understanding: Assessment/Feedback
  • Closure: Wrapping it up

 Instructional Procedures

Determine how you will introduce the lesson. You may want to use this time to introduce the objectives of this lesson and to set up your expectation for the learners.

Decide the method(s) you will use to teach the content of your lesson. Will you lecture; have small or whole group discussions? Sometimes it may be best to use a combination of these methods: beginning with a couple minutes of lecture, followed by a discussion to ensure that the students understand what you have taught them.

You should plan and select the most appropriate approach for students to achieve each outcome. The instructional approaches chosen for one learning outcome may be different from the approaches selected for other outcomes in the same lesson.
For example, if students are to gain skill in performing a certain task, one of the activities should be practice in performing the task.  If the desired outcome is knowledge, students should observe, listen, or read so they can relate what they are learning to their own experience.  If students must learn to apply a principle, the instructor should ask them to solve problems or perform tasks requiring an application of that principle.

Determine how you will have the students practice the skill/information you just taught them. For example, if you have taught them about the HIPAA rules, you will have them practice this with problem sets independently, or role-play in groups or some other cooperative project. These are a few of many possibilities.

How will you know whether your course is effective? You will need to gather some evidence of their learning, and this is usually done by administering some kind of formal assessment and assigning grades to learners. If you choose this method, you will need to create a grading rubric based on lesson objectives. If you have written specific, observable objectives it will be easy to turn this into questions for your assessments. You also turn some classroom activities into tests, but expect learner s to complete them this time without assistance.

For workplace training, it may be necessary and appropriate to design assessments to measure workplace performance after training.

Use the last few minutes of the class to assign homework, or plan for the next session.


  • Develop lesson plans, but be flexible to enough to adapt to changes as they occur.

  • Respond to them and use to use them to your learners benefit.

We’ve discussed the importance of lesson planning and how the quality of your lesson planning will affect the quality of the learner experience and the instructional results. But, even though you have spent hours developing and perfecting your lessons, during class time you should be flexible enough to adapt to unexpected events as they can and will occur. But, some of the best results will come from spontaneous, unplanned events, and you should be alert and flexible enough to respond to them; to use them to your learner’s benefit. In any event, you should incorporate them when you are in your planning your next lesson.

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