Writing Effective IDP Learning Objectives Help


This document, Writing Effective IDP Learning Objectives Help, supports the Digital Individual Development Plan Pilot sponsored by NER, NCR, and SER. These pages are internal links for the Digital IDP.

Download a printable version: Writing a Learning Objective for an IDP.

IDP Learning Objectives

Portrait of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.- Gen. Eisenhower

Your IDP Learning Objectives broadly describe WHAT you are going to do to achieve your goals. They are potential planned routes to your destination, not specific classes, programs, or certifications. Good objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Based.

  • There can be many ways to get to where you want to go
  • Use your supervisor and other experts to help with Learning Objectives because they know things about the route you may not
  • Plan the work and work the plan
  • Be flexible with the end in mind – the actual route to your goal rarely looks like what you initially planned
Good Examples of Learning Objectives Poor Learning Objectives
Best as Development Activities to support your Learning Objective
Develop skills in evaluating contracts for legal compliance with FAR this fiscal year Take Contracting Law for Supervisors
Explore my leadership style and gain skills to motivate and influence employees in a positive way in three months Attend GOAL Academy
Network with fellow superintendents to solve real world staffing and budget issues in the second half of May Sign up for Superintendents Round Table

Process for Writing IDP Learning Objectives

  1. List one to five knowledge, skills, or abilities (KSAs) you will need to accomplish your goal. RememberDevelopment can focus on improving the skills you already possess as well as filling in gaps in skills you do not.
  2. Match your KSA with an action word that describes what you wish to do and to what degree. Use the KSA Action Words chart as a job aid.
  3. Prioritize the order (if any) that your list should take.
  4. Add a realistic time frame to accomplish your objective. Higher priority items should be accomplished sooner
  5. Evaluate your learning objectives:
    • Consider if the concept or action may be broken into one or more parts to make it more clear (i.e. budget might be broken into formulation and execution. What do you want to focus on?)
    • Look for initiatives or priorities in your park, program, or office that your objectives might align with (e.g. differed maintenance, increased accountability, anti-harassment). These might receive more attention or you could highlight this aspect in you plan.
  6. Combine all of the above into a sentence for each KSA.

REMEMBER: Words like Understand and Know are not easily measurable – use action words that can be observed!

My learning objective is to [Action Word] + [KSA] within [Time Frame]. 


My learning objective is to:

  • Describe the NPS budget formulation process and be able to write more effective project justifications by the next SCC (1 year).
  • Become proficient in medical services coordination (logistics, finance, and operation) to round out my ranger skills in the next six months.
  • Develop supervisory skills around hiring people as a lead curator (1-3 years).
  • More Examples

Remember: Development can focus on improving the skills you already possess as well as filling in gaps in skills you do not.



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