'Could you tell me, please, which way I
ought to go from here?'
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
`I don't much care where--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
`--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.'
--from Alice’s Adventures
An objective is a description of a performance you want learners to be
able to exhibit before you consider them competent.
An objective describes an intended result of instruction, rather than
the process of instruction itself.
Reasons for Stating Objectives
To aid you in selecting teaching methods. (Remember Alice?)
To enable you to measure the learning outcome.
To assist students in organizing their efforts.
ABCDs of Writing Objectives
A-Audience: The who. "The student will be able to…"
B-Behavior: What a learner is expected to be able to do or the product
or result of the doing. The behavior or product should be observable.
C-Condition: The important conditions under which the performance is
D-Degree: The criterion of acceptable performance. How well the
learner must perform in order for the performance to be considered
False performance: Statements look like objectives but contain no
“Understand the principles of aerodynamics.”
False givens: Givens that typically describe something about the
instructions rather than the performance.
“Given a full day of instruction…”
Teaching points: Statements that describe a teaching point, a practice
exercise, or some other aspect of classroom activity.
“Be able to pick out a topic to discuss in class.”
Gibberish: Leave out technical, educational jargon.
“Demonstrate an increased awareness of and a considerable
Instructor performance: Statements that describe what the instructor
“The instructor will explain to the class…”
False criteria: Be specific and clear.
“…to the satisfaction of the observer.”
From: Mager's Tips on Instructional Objectives, On-line tutorial adapted
from: Mager, R.F. (1984). Preparing instructional objectives. (2nd ed.).
Belmont, CA: David S. Lake. URL: http://www.gsu.edu/~mstmbs/CrsTools/Magerobj.html#Objectives%20Defined
The Helpful Hundred
These words represent actions that are observable and measurable.
(Taken from R. Heinich, M. Molenda, J. Russell, S. Smaldino (2001).
Instructional Media and Technologies for Learning, 7th Edition. Englewood
Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc.)
Take a Look at Your Objectives
Other Resources for Writing Behavioral
"Information about Behavioral Objectives and How to Write Them," from
Florida State University's College of Medicine.
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