Learning Objectives – Time to Kill the “Third Slide” of Oral Presentations?

There are certain practices that distinguish a CE.  The formal elements I’ve detailed here previously. However, there are less formalized /  articulated practices that mark an individual as a CE.  One of the tells that I use to identify a CE is their design of learning objectives. 

In an excellent chapter on learning objectives from Educational DesignDenyse Richardson and Leslie Flynn adopt a common definition: “a learning objective has been defined as what learners will be able to do after an education process that they could not do before, and that will enable them in the future to perform a task.”  They also provide an annotated taxonomy of learning objectives based on Bloom’s framework. <see table below>

The “tell” of a CE is how they use their learning objectives in an oral presentation.  The third slide of “every” presentation (slide 1 = title, slide 2 = conflicts of interest) typically lists their learning objectives.  How the presenter structures and words the learning objectives is a quick check of their CE abilities.

However, this post is not about the mundane practice of writing and designing learning objectives.  Rather, it’s a question for you.  Is this (tired) structure of starting every presentation with a series of learning objectives effective for the audience (i.e. learners)? Has the health professions education community become immunized to the third slide?  I’m not suggesting ignoring learning objectives when designing a presentation.  (IMO, this is the most crucial and first step.)  Rather, I wonder if writing objectives is a foundational step that does not need to be prominently displayed.  When you tour my house, I will show you the living areas; only if you are a builder will I show you infrastructure (e.g. plumbing, electrical, foundation etc.)

So, what do you think?  The next time I present should I skip the “third slide,”  or is the information crucial to orient the audience?

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