A Validated Rubric for Scoring Learning Goals

Publication ID Published Version
9369 March 15, 2013 9


Creation of learning goals is an essential component of life-long learning. In order to be effective, learning goals must be well crafted. No tool currently exists to assess the quality of learning goals.

We created a scoring rubric with four criteria designed to assess the quality of learning goals written by learners in health professions education. This rubric can be used as both a summative evaluation of a learner’s goal writing skills and as a means of providing feedback to improve written goals. The rubric is based on the ISMART mnemonic for high-quality learning goals which identifies key aspects for successful goals and includes the following criteria – Useful goals address IMPORTANT topics, are SPECIFIC, include MEASURABLE or clearly describable outcomes, have a mechanism of ACCOUNTABILITY, are REALISTIC and have a TIMELINE for accomplishment. (This comprehensive view of learning goals also applies to individual learning plans [ILPs].)

Although the rubric was based on the ISMART mnemonic, the final rubric includes 4 criteria each with descriptive anchors that are scored from 0 to 3. The four criteria are:

  1. Specific Goal,
  2. Important Goal,
  3. Realistic Multisource Plan,
  4. Measureable Outcome.

This resource includes the scoring rubric, a worksheet to guide learners in the creation of high-quality learning goals, and detailed instructions for using the scoring rubric including example goals to score as part of rater training.


Lockspeiser T, Schmitter P, Lane J, Hanson J, Rosenberg A. A Validated Rubric for Scoring Learning Goals. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2013. Available from: https://www.mededportal.org/adea/publication/9369   http://dx.doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9369

Educational Objectives

  1. To reliably assess the quality of written learning goals and learning plans.


  • Self-directed Instruction, ISMART


  • Practice-based Learning & Improvement

Professional Interest

  • Assessment
  • Instructional Materials/Methods
  • Personal Characteristics & Attitudes

Instructional Methods

  • Independent Learning

Academic Focus

  • Clinical Sciences
    • Clinical Skills/Doctoring

Intended Audience

  • Professional & Faculty Development
  • Professional School
    • Medical Student
    • Nursing Student
  • Professional School Post-Graduate Training
    • Fellow
    • Resident


  • Evaluation Tool
  • Reference

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ISSN 2374-8265