Most people would agree that the goal of education is learning. Most would also agree that education objectives of preschool education are defined in likely to be more effective if educators are clear about what it is that they want the learners to learn. Finally, most would agree that if teachers have a clear idea about what learners are expected to learn, they can more easily and more accurately determine how well students have learned.
Because instructional objectives specify exactly what is supposed to be learned, they are helpful to the teacher as well as the learner throughout the learning process and are invaluable in the evaluation process. This phrase focused on the outcome of learning rather than on the learning process. Learning activities are important in planning and guiding instruction but they are not to be confused with instructional objectives. A student-oriented objective focuses on the learner, not on the teacher. It describes what the learner will be expected to be able to do. It may be helpful to both the teacher and the student to know what the teacher is going to do but teacher activities are also not to be confused with instructional objectives.
The key to writing observable objectives is to use verbs that are observable and lead to a well defined product of the action implied by that verb. Verbs such as “to know,” “to understand,” “to enjoy,” “to appreciate,” “to realize,” and “to value” are vague and not observable. There are many skills that cannot be directly observed. The thinking processes of a student as she tries to solve a math problem cannot be easily observed. However, one can look at the answers she comes up with and determine if they are correct.
For an objective to be sequentially appropriate it must occur in an appropriate place in the instructional sequence. All prerequisite objectives must already have been attained. Nothing thwarts the learning process more than having learners trying to accomplish an objective before they have learned the necessary prerequisites. This is why continuous assessment of student progress is so important. A useful objective is attainable within a reasonable time. If an instructional objective takes students an inordinately long time to accomplish, it is either sequentially inappropriate or it is too broad, relying on the accomplishment of several outcomes or skills rather than a single outcome or skill. An objective should set expectations for a single learning outcome and not a cluster of them.
Developmentally appropriate objectives set expectations for students that are well within their level of intellectual, social, language, or moral development. Teachers, parents, and others who are working with preschool or elementary school children should be especially aware of the developmental stages of the children they are working with. No author or researcher has more clearly defined the stages of intellectual development than Jean Piaget. Kinds of Instructional Objectives Instructional objectives are often classified according to the kind or level of learning that is required in order to reach them. The first level of the taxonomy divides objectives into three categories: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.
Cognitive objectives call for outcomes of mental activity such as memorizing, reading, problem solving, analyzing, synthesizing, and drawing conclusions. Bloom and others further categorize cognitive objectives into various levels from the simplest cognitive tasks to the most complex cognitive task. These categories can be helpful when trying to order objectives so they are sequentially appropriate. This helps to insure that prerequisite outcomes are accomplished first. Whenever a person seeks to learn to react in an appropriate way emotionally, there is some thinking going on. All skills requiring fine or gross motor coordination fall into the psychomotor category. To learn a motor skill requires some cognition.
However, the ultimate goal is not the cognitive aspects of the skill such as memorizing the steps to take. However, it can be argued that instructional objectives should guide the teaching and learning process from beginning to end. Most lesson plan forms include a place for the objectives of the lesson to be recorded. However, to write an objective down and then to plan the lesson around the topic of the lesson rather than around the learning outcomes to be reached is missing the point. There is good evidence in the human learning literature that different kinds of outcomes are learned differently.
How does an educator know what to measure? Any test item, any rating scale or checklist, any technique devised to collect information about student progress must seek to measure the instructional objectives as directly and as simply as possible. Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. The Systematic Design of Instruction, 5th edition. Functions of Instructional Objectives: Organization and Direction.
ERIC Clearing House No: SP 010829. The Conditions of Learning, 4th edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Stage and Sequence: The Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Socialization.