WRITING INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES Kathy V. Waller, PhD, CLS(NCA) NAACLS Board of Directors Educators have used instructional, or behavioral, objectives for at least four decades. Robert Mager’s little text, Preparing Instructional Objectives, first printed in 1962, assisted many instructors in formulating and writing objectives. Since then, the use of objectives has become commonplace in education. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) also affirms the value of objectives.
Specifically, Essentials 12 and 13 address the importance of incorporating objectives within the curriculum and specific units of study. The purpose of this unit is to assist the educator in writing objectives using a standard protocol. Objectives are not difficult to write if one follows the guidelines noted below. Instructional objectives are written for the student and they state what the student is expected to do following instruction. Objectives are specific, observable, and measurable learning outcomes. In contrast, goals are general and non-specific.
Goals are appropriate for an entire course or a curriculum of study, while objectives are written for individual units of study. There are benefits to incorporating objectives within our coursework. Objectives emphasize major points and reduce non-essential material. Objectives simplify note taking and cue the students to emphasize major points. Objectives assist students in organizing and studying content material. They guide the students to what is expected from them and help them to study important information. Objectives assist the student in studying more efficiently.
Finally, when examination items mirror objectives, students can use the objectives to anticipate test items. There are four components of an objective: 1) the action verb, 2) conditions, 3) standard, and 4) the intended audience (always the student). The action verb is the most important element of an objective and can never be omitted. The action verb states precisely what the student will do following instruction. Verbs are categorized by domains of learning and various hierarchies. Benjamin Bloom and his colleague, David Krathwohl, were pioneers in categorizing the domains and levels.
The three domains of learning are the cognitive domain that emphasizes thinking; the affective domain highlighting attitudes and feelings; and the psychomotor domain featuring doing. The first domain that was characterized by Bloom was the cognitive, which is further divided into six levels or hierarchies. 1 Cognitive (Thinking) Domain Knowledge Comprehension Application Analysis Synthesis Evaluation Sometimes the six hierarchies or levels listed above are grouped into three categories: Level 1. Recall – Knowledge and Comprehension Level 2.
Interpretation – Application and Analysis Level 3. Problem-Solving – Synthesis and Evaluation Recall objectives are at the basic taxonomic level and involve recall or description of information. Interpretation is a higher level of learning and involves application and examination of knowledge. Problem-solving skills test the highest level of learning and involve construction and assessment of knowledge. Examples of appropriate verbs for use with each of the three domains follow. 2 Writing Objectives: Key Verbs Cognitive (Thinking) Domain
The following key verbs will help to write good objectives and also establish a relative “taxonomic level” for each Objective. EVALUATION Appraise Approve Assess Choose Conclude Confirm Criticize Critique Diagnose Evaluate Judge Justify Prioritize Prove Rank Rate Recommend Research Resolve Revise Rule on Select Support Validate SYNTHESIS Arrange Assemble Build Combine Compile Compose Conceive Construct Create Design Devise Discover Draft Formulate Generate Integrate Make Manage Organize Plan Predict Prepare Propose Reorder Reorganize Set up Structure Synthesize
ANALYSIS Analyze Appraise Audit Break down Calculate Categorize Certify Compare Contrast Correlate Criticize Deduce Defend Detect Diagram Differentiate Discriminate Distinguish Examine Infer Inspect Investigate Question Reason Separate Solve Survey Test Uncover Verify APPLICATION Adapt Apply Catalogue Chart Compute Consolidate Demonstrate Develop Employ Extend Extrapolate Generalize Illustrate Infer Interpolate Interpret Manipulate Modify Order Predict Prepare Produce Relate Sketch Submit Tabulate Transcribe Use Utilize
COMPREHENSION Arrange Associate Clarify Classify Convert Describe Diagram Draw Discuss Estimate Explain Express Identify Locate Outline Paraphrase Report Restate Review Sort Summarize Transfer Translate KNOWLEDGE Cite Choose Define Label List Locate Match Name Recall Recognize Record Repeat Select State Write Level 1: Recall Level 2: Interpretation Level 3: Problem-solving g Note: Some verbs may be applicable within more than one category: for example. depending on the situation, “calculate” may fit under application or analysis. 3
Writing Objectives: Key Verbs Attitudinal or Affective (Valuing) Domain CHARACTERIZATION BY A VALUE OR VALUE COMPLEX ORGANIZATION Anticipate Collaborate Confer Consider Consult Coordinate Design Direct Establish Facilitate Follow through Investigate Judge Lead Manage Modify Organize Oversee Plan Qualify Recommend Revise Simplify Specify Submit Synthesize Test Vary Weigh Act Administer Advance Advocate Aid Challenge Change Commit (to) Counsel Criticize Debate Defend Disagree Dispute Empathize Endeavor Enhance Excuse Forgive Influence Motivate Negotiate Object Persevere Persist
Praise Profess Promote Promulgate Question Reject Resolve Seek Serve Strive Solve Tolerate Volunteer (for) VALUING Adopt Aid Care (for) Complete Compliment Contribute Delay Encourage Endorse Enforce Evaluate Expedite Foster Guide Initiate Interact Join Justify Maintain Monitor Praise Preserve Propose Query React Respect Seek Share Study Subscribe Suggest Support Thank Uphold RESPONDING
Agree Allow RECEIVING Answer Ask Accept Assist Acknowledge Attempt Attend (to) Choose Follow Communicate Listen Comply Meet Conform Observe Cooperate Receive Demonstrate Describe Discuss Display Exhibit Follow Give Help Identify Locate Notify Obey Offer Participate (in) Practice Present Read Relay Reply Report Respond Select Try The affective domain in concerned with changes (growth) in interests. attitudes and values. It is divided into five major classes arranged in hierarchical order based on level of involvement (from receiving, to characterization by a value). 4
Writing Objectives: Key Verbs Psychomotor (Doing or Skills) Domain Absorb Add Adsorb Adjust Aliquot Apply Aspirate Assemble Balance Bind Blend Build Calculate Calibrate Centrifuge Change Choose Classify Clean Collate Collect Combine Connect Construct Control Combine Confirm Connect Construct Control Cool Correct Count Create Crush Cut Decant Demonstrate Describe Design Dialyze Differentiate Dilute Discard Dismantle Dispense Dispose Dissect Dissolve Drain Draw Dry Elute Employ Estimate Evacuate Examine Expel Fasten Fill Filter Fractionate Frame Freeze Grade Grasp Grind Group Guide Handle Heat Hemolyze Identify Illustrate Incubate Inject Input Insert Invert Investigate Isolate Label Locate Localize Lyse Maintain Make Maneuver Manipulate Mark Macerate Measure Mix Moisten Mount Observe Obtain Open Operate Pack Palpate Participate Perform Pick Pipet Place Plate Plot Position Pour Prepare Press Process Produce Program Pull Puncture Push Read Record Release Remove Replace Resuspend Retest Rinse Roll Rotate Save Scan Score Screen Seal Select Sensitize Separate Set Sever Shake Sharpen Ship Siphon Spin Spread Squeeze Stain Standardize Start Stick Stir Stop Stopper Store Suspend Take Test Thaw Thread Tilt Time Tip Titrate Trim Touch Transfer Troubleshoot Turn Type Use Utilize View Warm Wash Watch Weigh Withdraw Wipe Wrap 5 Writing Objectives The ABCD method of writing objectives is similar to the theory explained here; the terminology is just slightly different. A is the audience, always the student. B is the behavior or the action verb. C is the condition for the objective and D is the degree of achievement or acceptable criteria.
Conditions Conditions describe the relevant factors associated with the desired performance. For example: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Criteria The criteria are specified as the acceptable level of achievement desired. They tell how well the learner must perform. This part of the objective may be omitted when there is no deviation from standard procedures or protocols. For example: 1. percent of correct responses 2. within a given time period 3. in compliance with criteria presented by the faculty Order and Tense There is a preferred order when writing objectives. The condition is usually placed first, followed by the behavior or verb, and then the criteria. Objectives are written in the future tense.
For example: Recall: After attending lecture and reading the assigned materials, the student will state the function of a thermometer. Interpretation: After attending lecture and studying the assigned materials, the student will demonstrate how a thermometer works. Problem-Solving: After attending lecture and studying the assigned materials (including problem sets), the student will formulate the degrees in C given the degrees in F, or vice versa. To avoid redundancy in writing objectives an educator often lists a single condition with the objectives underneath. after attending a lecture. . . . following review of a demonstration. . . . given a case study. . . . after completing the assignment. . . . given a specific instrument. . . . 6
After attending lecture and studying the assigned materials, the student will: 1. . . . . . 2. . . . . . 3. . . . . . Nonfunctional Verbs The following verbs cannot be measured or are redundant. They should be avoided when writing objectives. able to appreciation for awareness of capable of comprehend conscious of familiar with shows interest in knows has knowledge of learns memorizes understands will be able to Examples of Objectives for the Cognitive Domain Poor Better To increase the student’s ability to visually identify white cells on a differential. The student will identify correctly all white cells on a differential. Poor Better The student will gain knowledge of automated chemistry tests.
The student will state the principle for each automated chemistry test listed. Poor Better The student will be familiar with red blood cell maturation in the bone marrow. The student will diagram the maturation of red blood cells. Poor Better The student will understand the interpretation of hemoglobin electrophoresis patterns. Given several electrophoretic scans, the student will correctly diagnose each normal or abnormal pattern. 7 Levels Within the Cognitive Domain LEVEL #1. KNOWLEDGE Knowledge involves recognition or recalling of • • definitions specifics Here, one is expecting learners to: • remember an idea, phenomenon, or a fact in somewhat the form in which it was presented.
For example, one might design an activity that requires a learner to: • • • write the formula for ethyl alcohol define diuresis list the six levels in the cognitive domain of Bloom’s taxonomy Generally, KNOWLEDGE encompasses the cognitive process of remembering learned material LEVEL#2. COMPREHENSION Comprehension usually involves • • translation associations Here, one is expecting the learner to: • • communicate an idea or thing (event) in a new or different form (translation) see relationships among things or events (associations) For example, one might design an activity that requires a learner to: • • describe three distinguishing features of the Lewis blood group system explain the rationale for using “selective media” in microbiology
Generally, COMPREHENSION encompasses the cognitive process of explaining material that has been learned. 8 LEVEL #3 APPLICATION Application is described by Bloom as “the use of abstract forms in particular and concrete situations. The abstractions may be in the form of general ideas, rules or procedures, generalized methods. ” In application, one expects the learner to • • For example: • • when given the clinical situation of a patient needing a transfusion, submit the most suitable blood product to be used apply Universal Precautions to establish and maintain a safe laboratory environment relate or apply ideas to new situations use what he/she comprehends from a variety of areas to solve problems
Generally, APPLICATION involves using knowledge to find or develop new solutions. LEVEL #4 ANALYSIS Analysis involves examining • • • elements relationships organizational principles Here, one is expecting the learner to: • • For example, • • when given a patient’s hematologic data, appraise that data to ascertain whether they are internally consistent and can be reported when given various cell panels, analyze the results to identify an unexpected antibody(s) break “things” down into their component parts uncover the unique characteristics of a concept or event Generally, ANALYSIS involves the ability to break down material into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. 9
LEVEL #5 SYNTHESIS Synthesis involves an ability to • • generate a set of abstract relations (to “hypothesize”) create a plan or propose a set of operations Here, one is expecting the learner to: • • For example, • • prepare appropriate financial statements for decision-making propose a “core laboratory” structure to optimize efficiency and effectiveness take “things “ and reorganize them in a new way create new or original concepts Note: the processes with SYNTHESIS involve inductive, not deductive reasoning. This can be difficult when one considers that the profession of clinical laboratory science usually uses information to arrive at conclusions. We are skilled deductive thinkers, but may not be as skilled inductive thinkers. ) Thus, preparing objectives at this level may be difficult. LEVEL #6 EVALUATION Evaluation includes the ability to judge, using • internal standards and • external criteria to bring about informed decisions Here, one is expecting the learner to: • • For example: • • evaluate and select a chemistry automated system in view of costs, personnel, productivity and space available validate all of the laboratory data received from a patient with a recent bone marrow transplant make judgments about “things” or events based on internal and external criteria accept or reject “things” or events based on established standards 10
Generally, this cognitive function involves the ability to judge the value of some thing for a given purpose. The educator should use a combination of all three levels of cognitive verbs when writing learning outcomes. The test question should reflect the level of the objective; thus if an objective is recall, then a similar verb like “state” should be used in the test question. If the objective is problem solving, then the test question might use a verb such as “diagnose” or “evaluate. ” Additional Examples of Objectives Lecture Objectives (Hemolytic Anemias) After attending the lecture, reading the assignment, and performing the tests in the laboratory, the student will: 1. Define the term hemolytic anemia. (recall) 2.
Classify the major hemolytic anemias by their intrinsic or extrinsic causes. (recall) 3. Summarize each disease discussed in lecture including distinguishing characteristics, clinical manifestations, laboratory findings, pathology, and treatment. (recall) 4. For each disease discussed in lecture, determine the appropriate tests to resolve the problem. Include the principle and mechanism of each test in the evaluation. (interpretation) 5. Given a set of laboratory data and patient history, correctly diagnose the disease. (problem-solving) Affective Objectives After attending a lecture on Essential Functions, the student will exhibit the following behaviors: 1.
Communicate effectively in written and spoken English. 2. Appropriately assess nonverbal and verbal communication. 3. Follow written and verbal directions. 4. Work independently and with others under time constraints. 11 5. Prioritize requests and work concurrently on at least two different tasks. 6. Maintain alertness and concentration during a normal work period. 7. Apply knowledge, skills, and values learned from course work and life experiences to new situations. 8. Show respect for self and others 9. Project an image of professionalism including appearance, dress, and confidence. Psychomotor Objectives Upon completion of the laboratory exercise the student will: 1.
Correctly perform the electrophoretic procedure and obtain a satisfactory pattern that could be accurately interpreted by both the student and the faculty member. 2. Interpret normal and abnormal electrophoretic patterns with 100% accuracy as compared with patterns interpreted by the CLS. 3. Using a densitometer, obtain the concentration of each protein fraction within 10% of faculty member’s results. 4. Perform calcium determinations on serum using a direct spectrophotometric method within 10% of the reported result. 5. Demonstrate skill in using micropipetting devices to the satisfaction of the faculty member. References Bloom, Benjamin S. , (Ed. , Taxonomy of Education Objectives: Handbook I: Cognitive Domain, N. Y. , David McKay Company, Inc. 1956. Mager, Robert, Preparing Instructional Objectives, Palo Alto, California, Fearon Press, 1962. Krathwohl, D. R. , Bloom, B. S. and Masia, B. B. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook II. The Affective Domain. N. Y. , David McKay Company, Inc. 1964. Harrow, A. J. A Taxonomy of the Psychomotor Domain. N. Y. David McKay Company, Inc. 1972. 12 Ford, Charles W. , (Ed. ), Clinical Education for Allied Health Professions, St. Louis, C. V. / Mosby Company, 1978. Karni, Karen, Writing Great Objectives and Exam Questions. Presented at the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference, Salt Lake City, UT. 2000 13