The Learning Process
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Writing Goals and Objectives
Skills and Training Required to Develop Instructional Goals and Objectives
Goals are broad, generalized statements that describe what the purpose and aim of the instruction. A goal is the target that defines and describes what the learner should achieve in a course.

   The USFS Basic Skills program is encouraging its instructors to develop lesson plans to teach the specific tasks of each badge. Developing a lesson plan starts with writing the goals and objectives for each session of the semester.  Refer to Moving Snow Plow Stop Lesson Plan.

    Every instructor/coach should review the differences in how learners acquire information:

  • The auditory learner does well with verbal communications provided they take good notes, have a photographic memory, or a handout with prepared notes provided.

  • A visual learner can observe a demonstration and retain the information for retrieval like a video tape playback. This type of learner acquires the information through a process of visualizing or picturing words/concepts in their head. They should make notes, but rarely do. A DVD of the lesson is very helpful to this type of learner.

  • The tactile learner acquires skills by observing and trying. The instructor needs to make regular feedback so the learner associates the correct physical positions for referencing during practice sessions. A tactile learner becomes quickly bored. They also should take notes, but they don't usually take the time from practicing to do so.  Individualized instruction provides the "hands on" learning experience that allows this type of learner to achieve their full potential.

  • Many learners actually process information in all of the above ways to various degrees. No one method will be completely successful for this learner.
    The following list contains the criteria of a well written Instructional Objective:
  • An Instructional Objective must be a specific, measurable, short-term, and observable behavior.

  • Objectives provide the foundation that lessons are constructed, and assessments are made to determine if the lesson/course has met its stated goal.
  • Objectives are the tools used to reach the goals. Think of the objectives as the road map to reach the designation or goal.

  • Objectives help to clearly focus the agenda of the learning environment so learning can be objectively measured. Teachers/coaches have different personalities and teaching styles, everyone shares the same goal - conveying information successfully to the learner.
Common Types of Objectives

Psychomotor: Physical skill - "The student will be able to stroke around the perimeter of the rink without assistance or pause as demonstrated by the instructor." The stroking is a demonstration of fine motor skills. Refer to psychomotor domain.

Cognitive: understandings, awareness, insights - "A student will be able to list and describe the four stages of a jump either verbally or in writing." or "The student will be able to discuss how Newton's laws apply to jumps in a verbal discussion or in writing a paper on the strengths and weaknesses of the application of his theories to skating." Advanced skaters should have the benefit of additional knowledge or information to assist them with their comprehension or conceptual understanding of Newton's Laws. Some may be able to demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge, the ability to analyze a situation, and the ability to apply the concepts to other skating situations. See also Blooms' Taxonomy.

Affective: attitudes, appreciation, relationships (e.g., "Given the opportunity to work in a team with several specialists, the student will demonstrate an positive attitude and be able to benefit from different perspectives (choreographer, physical trainer, plus ballet and/or ballroom instructor." See also a detailed description of the affective domain.

An Objective should indentify/define the following:  
  • Audience - Who is the target or recipient of the instruction.
  • Behavior/Response - What activity or behavior do you expect the learner to be able to do? This should be a specific, observable behavior or action that is measurable.
  • Condition- Under what circumstances will the learning occur? Is there any prerequisite skills or knowledge the student is expected to know to accomplish the learning?  Is the student expected to bring specific equipment or supplies to class?
  • Degree of accomplishment - What specific set of criteria are to be achieved to receive a passing grade. Do you want total mastery (100%), do you want them to respond correctly 80% of the time, etc. A common (and totally non-scientific) setting is 80% of the time.

The above list of objectives provides a mnemonic aid, the ABCD's of objectives.

Typical Problems Encountered When Writing Objectives

Error Types
Too vast/complex The objective is too broad in scope or is actually more than one objective. Simplify by dividing into sub-sets.
False/missing behavior, condition, or degree The objective does not list the correct behavior, condition, and/or degree. Sometimes completely missing. Make sure the correct behavior, condition, and degree is listed.
False givens Describes instruction, not conditions! Simplify, include ONLY ABCD's of objectives.
False performance No specific, observable performance identified. Describe what behavior to be observed.

Take a quiz to see how much you have learned about writing instructional objectives.

Recommended Reading:


Overview of Instructional Objectives   The instructional objectives of a lesson plan describe the author's educational intent for the students - that is, the desired learning outcomes.

Mager's Tips on Instructional Objectives  Sept. 6, 1999. An instructional objective describes student performance. It avoids saying anything about instructor performance.

Instructional Objective Helper  Oct. 25, 2001. This form is designed to guide you through the process of writing effective five -part instructional objectives.

Objective Writing   Objectives are not difficult to write if one follows the guidelines noted below. Instructional objectives are written for the student.

Instructional Design:

Training Principles:

Principles of Sports Training:


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Principles of Sports Training: Developing Course Materials:
PDF  Trainability of Children
PDF  Trainability of Young Athletes
PDF  Writing Objectives

All materials are copy protected. 

The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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