The learning objectives will communicate to the prospective students why they are taking the course and what they can expect to learn from it. Further, it will also serve as a reminder to you, the instructor, what the key aims of the course were and help keep your course focused (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014). Again, like the course description, in some cases the university or others at your institution may already have mandated course objectives that must be included in your syllabus.
While it is understood that criminal justice programs and universities have the dual goals of promoting a broad liberal arts education in addition to meeting the vocational needs of the field (Baker, Holcomb, & Baker, 2016; Flanagan, 2000), this guide will naturally express some bias towards practical knowledge and skill areas for the students’ eventual workplace. However, recent research by Garland & Matz (2016) associated with this project demonstrated that both practitioners in the field and college faculty recognize the importance of universal skills such as critical thinking, verbal and written communication, and interpersonal skills.
As Svinicki & McKeachie (2014) explain, the learning objectives and goals of the course should reflect and “…facilitate student learning and thinking in general” (p. 8). Further, learning objectives may require different levels of complexity. Despite its age, Bloom’s taxonomy remains a useful resource for course objective development (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom, 1956). The taxonomy is characterized by six levels of learning including knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The first level, knowledge, requires students to recall information; comprehension involves further interpretation; application requires students to use what they’ve learned to solve a problem; analysis includes the examination of assumptions and hypotheses; synthesis refers to the integration of numerous ideas into a single project; and finally evaluation concerns students' ability to assess and critique what they have learned. Anderson and colleagues (2001) later added “creation” as a seventh level. The following is a list of sample verbs associated with these levels of learning that may aid the development of new learning objectives (Nilson, 2010, pp. 22-23; Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014).
Level Sample Verbs
Comprehension ExplainParaphraseTranslateApplication ComputePrepareIllustrate
The following are samples of learning objectives from community corrections courses from several colleges and universities.
Mr. Edward Mosley’s Fall/Spring 2013-2014 Community Corrections: Probation and Parole Course Learning Objectives at Passaic County Community College
- Explain how probation and parole relate to other components of the criminal justice system.
- Describe the types of sentencing schemes in use.
- Explain the history of probation in the United States.
- Differentiate between the medical model of treating offenders versus the rehabilitation model.
- Explain the principles which underlie the alternative dispute resolution concept.
- Describe the goals of community corrections.
Dr. Faith Lutze’s Spring 2014 Community Corrections Course Learning Objectives at Washington State University
1. Defining the Problem through Statistics
a. Provide a foundation of understanding based on social science research and statistics about the extent of offender supervision in the United States.
b. Provide a clear understanding of the pattern and type of supervision utilized in the United States.
2. Create an understanding of the social, political, and professional context of community corrections
a. Provide a simple overview of the multiple frameworks influencing community corrections supervision.
b. Develop a new paradigm to conceptualize the importance of community corrections to the success of the criminal justice system.
c. Begin a discussion informed by science, theory, and personal/professional experience about evidence based practices in community supervision.
3. Understanding the Experiential Context of Supervision
a.Create an understanding of the social and personal context in which supervision takes place.
b. Outline the importance of multiple interventions including sanctions, support, and treatment.
c. Develop an understanding of community supervision as a “human profession.”
4. Integrating Systems in Response to Community Supervision and Offender Needs
a. Provide a framework for understanding how system level responses must be connected to the reality of professional contexts, communities, and offenders.
b. Identify how complex problems require complex solutions and interagency collaboration.
c. Provide the foundations for creating solutions to complex social problems.
5. Achieving Change and Taking Action
a. Learn how to translate social science into effective policy.
b. Empower future professionals to implement evidence based practices.
Dr. Martha Hurley’s Spring 2015 Community Based Corrections Course Learning Objectives at Texas A&M University Commerce
- The student will obtain a basic understanding of community corrections concepts.
- The student will understand the policy implications of community corrections practice.
- The student will be able to put community corrections practice in a national context.
- The student will learn how to think critically about community corrections issues.
Mr. Donald Rallyson’s Spring 2015 Introduction to Community Based Corrections Course Learning Objectives at WOR-WIC Community College
- Describe the objectives of community based corrections.
- Describe and discuss various diversion programs in the criminal justice system.
- Identify and discuss various economic sanctions to include fines, fees, restitution, and community service.
- Understand and discuss the historical development, program planning, and operations of community residential centers (halfway houses).
- Describe pre-trial release, temporary release programs, and parole.
- Discuss special problems and need of female offenders.
- Understand and describe in detail various programs for juveniles, and the difference in criminal justice and juvenile justice.
- Identify special needs, problems, and concerns of drug and alcohol offenders.
American Public University’s Probation and Parole Course Learning Objectives
- Identify various types of community corrections programs.
- Explain the factors involved in the decision to release one from detention.
- Explain the purpose and contents of the presentence investigation report.
- Describe how probation is organized and operates.
- Identify the importance of caseload classification in identifying risk and needs.
- Identify the types of educational and character qualifications needed to manage a caseload of offenders.
- Identify how probation conditions are modified and under what circumstances.
- Identify the various types of residential community corrections facilities.
- Examine how restorative principles and practices differ from traditional criminal justice practices.
- Distinguish the roles of discretionary parole and mandatory supervised release.
- Examine the preparations needed for the reentry process while the offender is still incarcerated.
- Analyze the similarities and differences between the juvenile and adult justice systems.
- Describe how rights are lost as a result of conviction.