Most people would agree that the goal of education is learning. Most would also specify the new forms of preschool education that education is 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.