Posted on: March 7, 2023
Author: Dr. Charles Chaffin
Assessing Your Learning Objectives and Assessment Strategy image

Learning is one of the most rewarding and yet sometimes messy businesses. Each learner brings with them different motivations, competencies, learning styles, and perspectives that all must be at best accommodated or at minimum, recognized when we are developing learning experiences.

For our organizations, we take-on an equally challenging and rewarding process of determining what people need to know and do and then just as importantly, determine whether they learned how to know or do it!

The good news is that we can be somewhat formulaic in how we determine what we want our learners to achieve; how we determine whether they have achieved; and even whether what we are doing is working. In addition, a good process can put our organizations in positions to be experts in the field as we engage all our stakeholders, such as professionals, employers, and educators. That expertise can lead to new revenue streams for our organization while bolstering the quality of education delivery.

Below are a few ideas that I hope will be helpful to you in your journey towards developing standards and learning activities for your organization.

What needs to be learned? (IACET 1-2018 CE/T Standard Element 4.1)

Ideally, develop a quantitative survey that goes to professionals currently working in your area who know the knowledge and competencies necessary to be successful within your field. Consider:

  • Diversity of work experience, age, business model, gender, race, and ethnicity
  • Consider a working group that can help formulate the questions for the survey and analyze the results. That group should have the same diversity listed above.

To consider: Are there opportunities for new revenue streams for your organization in the area of content development?

How do you know it was learned (IACET 1-2018 CE/T Standard’s Element 7.1 and 7.2)?

What does your assessment look like? Obviously, it needs to be reliable and legally defensible — and contain all the “psychometric bells and whistles.” It also needs to match your learning objectives. Some items to consider:

  • Get as close to assessing the competency you are looking to assess in the actual assessment. In other words, if you want to assess if someone can perform a passage on a violin, you should have them perform the passage on the violin in the assessment- not write an essay about it.
  • With that said, multiple choice exams are the most effective route when assessing hundreds if not thousands of individuals. Therefore, consider assessing for higher order cognitive thinking rather than regurgitation of simple facts. Think about application and synthesis that require thinking across silos and get closer to the competencies that you are looking to assess.
  • Rubrics can help make the subjective more objective. Develop them based upon your learning objectives and share them with the learners ahead of time so they know how they are being assessed.

To consider: Are you getting the message out about your exam directly to your candidates?

Demystifying your exam is important. It can help in ensuring that candidates are not scared away from taking your exam. Sometimes, review course providers and even instructors can dissuade candidates from taking your exam. Remember, demystifying your exam is not watering it down. It is merely making sure everyone knows what will be asked of them and their pathway to success.

How do you know what you are doing is working (IACET 1-2018 CE/T Standard Element 9.1)?

Surveys immediately following the learning experience are the best way to assess whether the experience was successful and useful in the mind of the learner or attendee. Consider three areas:

  • Quality/relevance of content
  • Quality/relevance of experience
  • Quality of speaker

Be sure to have a committee analyze the results; don’t use attendance at your next offering as your indicator of success. It is too late and will cost you revenue.

How can you improve what you are doing (IACET 1-2018 CE/T Standard Element 9.2)?

The formula of delivery, feedback, and refinement is ongoing. We are constantly receiving feedback on our delivery and refining that delivery for the next offering. It should never stop. Rewarding improvement is one of the best ways to make the value of feedback even higher for your organization

Some other points to consider

  • New requirements come with new revenue opportunities. What is your content strategy and are you maximizing it?
  • Control your pipeline through metrics, content, and engagement. Digital subscriptions offered by your organization can yield new revenue while proving candidates the opportunity to get to know your organization as they continue their journey.
  • Have you considered pathway designations? They provide intermediate benchmarks that can lessen attrition and provide new revenue streams.

Dr. Charles Chaffin consults with a variety of organizations regarding certification requirements and education delivery and can be reached at

For more information on Virtual Relationships, click here to launch the recording of Dr. Chaffin’s IACET Professional Development Webinar, “Assessing Your Learning Objectives and Assessment Strategy.”

About the Author


Dr. Charles Chaffin is a consultant, researcher, and educator focusing on a variety of topics related to financial planning. Dr. Chaffin’s work encompasses a broad range of fields, from educational and cognitive psychology to financial planning and life in the information age. His research and teaching focuses on learner cognition in a variety of formats, including delivery methods and learning styles as well as client behaviors and attitudes within finance. His work focuses on one of the biggest issues of our time: Information, most notably how we manage, retain, and use it in all aspects of our lives.  

He has written and edited six books related to psychology and finance, including his most recent book, Numb: How the information age dulls our senses and how we can get them back. Dr. Chaffin is the host of his own podcast, “The Numb Podcast.” He speaks and consults with a variety of organizations and businesses regarding ways to manage all the pushes and pulls on attention and how we can stay focused on our short and long-term goals in such a noisy world.

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