Good learning objectives are very valuable for any course, but they are essential to active learning. Since the activities are intended to help the students understand and use the central concepts of the course, it is important that they are very directly connected to specific learning outcomes.
This being said, it can be difficult to create good learning outcomes. I am rewriting all of mine using two fabulous resources. Neither of these resources is specific to active learning, so they can be useful for any style of teaching. The first, by Michael Potter and Erika Kustra, at the University of Windsor, is a great introduction to writing learning outcomes. Even more importantly, it defines a great framework for mixing outcomes at all levels.
This becomes an even more powerful tool when it is put together with the Social Science Research Council’s Measuring College Learning Project. They present learning objectives along two axes: concepts and competencies. The Economics group does a particularly good job of creating a set of learning objectives that truly highlights the intersection between the two (it starts at page 112).
I will be adapting the sociology learning objectives to match my course. While they don’t exactly match my needs, they have given me a really good launching place. Learning objectives are also available for the following disciplines:
Even if your discipline is not on this list, it is definitely worthwhile to take a look. I found looking at ones outside of sociology was very useful to help me think outside my normal worn path.