Generative AI for Course Design: Crafting Learning Objectives

Melissa McCurry
Last Updated: February 21, 2024
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Generative AI can be a valuable asset to instructors looking for assistance with creating various aspects of course design. For example, generative AI, such as ChatGPT, can be a valuable tool for educators in drafting learning objectives. Using GenAI in any setting is usually a process of drafting and then refining prompts until the desired result is achieved. In this article, we will outline some ways to generate and refine learning objectives for a course.

Learning objectives are concise statements that articulate what students are expected to learn or achieve in a course. They play a crucial role in guiding both teaching strategies and assessment methods, ensuring that educational experiences are focused and effective. Clear and well-defined learning objectives are essential for aligning educational activities with desired learning outcomes. By analyzing a vast array of educational content and pedagogical methods in its training data, AI can offer a wide range of learning objective recommendations, which educators can then build off of, using their knowledge as experts in the field. 


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Generative AI for Course Design: The Basics

Learn more foundational information about Generative AI
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Learning objectives and outcomes

How to craft good learning objectives for instruction

Using your preferred GenAI tool, here is an example prompt that you can use to get started: 

This example prompt can be modified to fit your needs. For example, you may choose to add more ideas and give additional context about the course. The more detail and context you provide in your input, the better the AI output will be. So please feel free to add in outlines, syllabi, or any other materials that may help your GenAI assistant better understand your vision. 

Example: An Online Course on the Cold War

Drafting Objectives

Now that we have our example prompt, let’s see an example of it in action. Imagine you are an instructor for an introductory online course on the Cold War. You plan to use ChatGPT to generate some ideas on potential learning objectives to get you started and guide your curriculum creation. You already have some general ideas on what you want to cover: causes, major events, and overall impact. You fill in the prompt as so: 

You press enter and ChatGPT provides you with the following learning objectives: 


It is now up to you as the expert to determine which learning objectives are the most relevant and how you should go about revising them. For example, you may look at the list and notice that there are no learning objectives that ask the learners to create something with the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout the course (e.g., a final project). You return to ChatGPT and ask the following: 

In response, ChatGPT provides you with the following: 

If you disagree with this suggestion, you can reply with “More?” to get additional ideas. ChatGPT will then provide you with a longer list: 

You can repeat this process as often as you’d like – adjusting the prompt and adding additional context (e.g., outlines, key ideas, information about your teaching style) to get better responses. When formulating responses for you, ChatGPT looks at the entire chat log so it is recommended that you continue to add to the same chat for best results.

In our next article, we’ll explore how to use Generative AI to improve accessible language in your course.

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