Topic 3: Develop Goals and Objectives


"My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe."

Developing Goals

The course goals are broad statements of what the students will be able to do when they have completed the course. Goals can be simple and straight forward, "Students will learn to identify every bone in the human body" or goals can be lofty ideas, using words or phrases like "appreciates" or "shows leadership ability."

Example of a broad course goal:

Students will gain a greater appreciation for Latin music.

How can we measure if a person appreciates music? It would be very difficult. That is why we develop objectives. The objectives are measurable and specific so you can determine if the goal was achieved.

Developing Measurable Objectives

"The goal is where we want to be. The objectives are the steps needed to get there."

Measurable objectives are the specific measures we use to determine whether or not we are successful in achieving the goal. The objectives are instructions about what we want the student to be able to do. Use verbs and include specific conditions (how well or how many) that describe to what degree the students will be able to demonstrate mastery of the task.

Some educators call these learning outcomes; others call them measurable objectives; and yet others call them behavioral objectives because they describe observable behavior rather than knowledge.

Examples of measurable course objectives:

Students will:

  • identify five different Latin American rhythms from the recordings posted on the course Web site

  • create a playlist featuring ten recordings representing different Latin American genres

It is easy to measure each of the objectives. Either the student has or has not accomplished the objectives.

Developing Measurable Objectives as Assessment Tools

Measurable objectives are used as assessment tools. Once the objective is defined, this then becomes the foundation for your grading or assessment policy. If your grading policy is very different than your behavioral objectives you should reconsider one or the other.

Objectives should include:

  • conditions (how or where the student will perform the task)
  • behavioral verb (describe student behavior)
  • criteria (how well the student performs the behavior)

Guidelines for Writing Measurable Objectives Rubric

The hardliners in the field of writing behavioral objectives state that the behavioral objectives must be written according to the following template:

The skill that the learner demonstrates. Conditions under which the learner demonstrates the skill. Criteria for measuring success.
The student will
be able to identify measurable objectives.
from a list which includes 20 broad goals and 20 measurable objectives. The student will complete the task with no errors.

By clarifying expectations—how many, to what degree, under what conditions, etc., both the teacher and students are clear about what is expected.

However, in practice, only a few people actually include the criteria for measuring success in the objectives because often it is implicit in the skill itself.
For example:

Students will memorize and recite a poem.

Sometimes the goal is the same as the objectives.

Learn the rules, then use your judgement.

The following are two tools to help you write and check goals and objectives.

Measurable Objectives Rubric

Behavioral Objectives Checklist


For more info on how to write goals and objectives

"Writing Educational Goals and Objectives"



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