Teachers want students to be partners with them in the learning process. Not only do we want them to be motivated to learn and do high quality work, but also to take responsibility for growth in their learning. According to Susan Brookhart, “good formative assessment gives students information they need to understand where they are in their learning, and develops students feelings of control over their learning.”(2007) Indeed, if we want students to be partners in their learning, our feedback needs to effectively provide some control.
Recently I viewed a TED talk called The Myth of Average. In this talk, the speaker, Todd Rose of the Harvard Graduate School of Education suggests the notion that there is no average student. His point is, when we design for the average, we design for no one.

Whether you call them learning targets, objectives, intentions, or outcomes, there's no doubt that they're all the rage in education right now - and with good reason! For our purposes, I will use the term "learning objective" to refer to the idea of using statements that describe what students are expected to learn - no matter what you call them.