Writing SMART objectives

Writing SMART objectives

What is an objective?

Objectives are statements of action that describe what you need to accomplish in order to meet your goal(s).

What is a SMART objective?

A SMART objective is…
Specific - It describes a specific action, behaviour, outcome or achievement that is observable.
Measurable - It is quantifiable and has indicators associated with it so it can be measured.
Audience-specific - It is appropriate and relevant to your target audience.
Realistic - It is achievable with the available resources.
Time-Bound - It states the time-frame within which the objective will be achieved.

What is the difference between a project objective and a learner objective?

Project objectives…
describe project outputs (activities (e.g., planting a tree), events (e.g., a workshop), materials produced (e.g., a brochure), etc.). They do not express desired changes in program participants or desired long-term impacts but rather describe what is necessary to do now for such changes or impacts to occur later.

By the end of the 6 month project, 300 compact fluorescent light bulbs will be installed in 15 local businesses.

Learner objectives…
describe project outcomes (desired changes that occur to people, organizations and communities as a result of the project). In education, learner objectives articulate changes in knowledge and awareness, attitudes and values, skills, and/or behaviours. All education projects should have learner objectives.  

By the end of the 6 month project, 40% of employees at participating businesses will commit to using alternative transportation at least once a week.

Tips for writing SMART objectives

  • To make your objectives time bound, consider starting with: “By the end of the 6-month project/program…”, or for subcomponents of a program: “At the end of the 1-day workshop…”
  • Try not to fit it all into one objective! Since objectives should be specific, you’ll probably need to create a few for your project.
  • Ensure that your learner objectives target outcomes related to increased knowledge or skills, or changes in attitudes, values or behaviours.
  • Use appropriate verbs to ensure your objectives are targeted toward specific outcomes
Knowledge/awareness Attitudes/values Skills
be interested in adopt apply
classify appraise calculate
define avoid construct
describe commit demonstrate
determine decide design
distinguish favour establish
explain rate measure
identify reject operate
list select perform
predict sign plan
recall support research
specify value use
state volunteer write

Examples of SMART objectives

Project objectives

By the end of the 6 month “Precious Places” project, 3 regional maps depicting important breeding habitat for 3 species-at-risk (Piping Plover, Blanding Turtle and Roseate Tern) will be created.

By the end of the “Blue Water, Green Planet” project, presentations will be made to 12 communities across Newfoundland about the importance of creating marine protected areas.

By the end of the 6-month “Active Transportation” project, 20 bike racks will be installed at 10 locations within the City of Moncton.

By the end of the 6-month “Watershed Restoration” project, a minimum of 2 digger logs and 25 brush mats will be installed along a 500 meter portion of the Grand River.

Learner objectives


By the end of the 3 month “River Watchers” project, all 8 landowners along the 1000m of river will value the importance of the riparian zone in keeping the shoreline healthy.

By the end of the 2-day “Forest Conservation” conference, a total of 12 people (from at least 4 stakeholder groups) will agree to be part of a working group on expanding the Cape Wanaka Wilderness Area.

By the end of the 1 year “Sustainable Transportation” project, at least 4 city councillors will support and sign the sustainable transportation plan.

Within one year of completion of the “Wetland Stewardship” project, at least 3 landowners will enter into stewardship agreements with the Provincial Habitat Stewardship Trust.


By the end of the 3 month environmental education program, 75% of participating students will be able to name 3 ways they can reduce their carbon emissions and 5 ways to reduce their water consumption at home.

By the end of the 1-hour interpretive program “There’s Fungus Among Us!”, 75% of program participants will be able to identify at least 3 types of fungus growing in their local National Park.

At the end of the 1-hour biology class on climate change, 100% of students will be able to explain the difference between ozone depletion and global warming.

After visiting the “Sustainable Food Awareness” campaign booth, 50% of people, when leaving the grocery store, will be able to list three types of organic produce that are grown locally and sold in the store.


At the end of the 1-hour “DriveSMART” workshop, 100% of participants will be able to demonstrate how to take and read a car’s tire pressure.

At the end of the one-day Project WET training, 100% of participants will be able to plan and implement at least 3 Project WET activities.

After 5 school visits with a gardening expert from Lion’s Head Environmental Action group, the grade 6 class at Harbourview Elementary School will be able to design and create their own schoolyard garden.

At the end of the half-day orienteering field trip, 100% of participating students will be able to use a GPS to locate a hidden GeoCache.

Page details

Date modified: