3. Aims, Goals, and Objectives
Expressions of the values of instruction,
more specific directions of the curriculum, and specific behavioral outcomes
Instruction is more effective when the desired outcomes
are fully understood and accepted by program planners, instructors, and
students. Complete upstanding of the outcomes of instruction is facilitated
by dear statements of the “aims,” “goals,” and “objectives” of the educational
program. Aims are general expressions
of values that provide a sense of directions. The are broadly stated outcomes
which are acceptable to virtually everyone who is interested in the educational
program under consideration. Examples of aims related to a secondary school
science program are:
Aims are important in communicating outcomes with which many
individuals can agree. However, aims alone cannot be used to guide instructional
decisions because they are too broad and general. To be useful, aims require
greater specification which is presented in the form of goals and objectives
All students should become scientifically literate.
Students who plan advanced studies in the fields of science
or engineering should develop a broad background in both science and mathematics.
Students should develop an interest in and appreciation for
the interactions of science, technology, and society.
like aims, provide a sense of direction, but they are more precise.
Goals relate a general aim to some specific aspect of the curriculum. The
previously stated aims could be converted to goals like these:
Goals connect aims to tangible aspects of the curriculum.
Although goals are more specific than aims, they always are derived in
ways that contribute to realizing the aims. High level curriculum planning
committees often specify the aims which guide an educational program; teams
of teachers are responsible for formulating goals which are consistent
with these aims and feasible with the resources and time allocated to different
parts of the educational program.
General biology students will understand that their personal
health decisions impact the functioning of their bodies as a biological
Physics students will know that energy is conserved in all
ordinary physical interactions and that the conservation can be demonstrated
Chemistry students will know there have been both social
benefits and costs associated with the widespread use of agricultural insecticides.
Objectives carry this
process one step further by describing the specific behaviors the learner
is to attain, the conditions under which the behavior must be demonstrated,
and the proficiency level at which the behavior is to be performed. The
previously stated goals could be converted to an objectives like these:
Objectives must be tailored to fit a particular class of
students. If the published teacher’s guide for a course includes objectives,
the classroom teacher may need to rewrite them to fit individual students
or groups of students who have specific needs which are different from
those of the “typical” class.
Upon completion of the unit on the circulatory system, the
biology students will be able to list the advantages of a low fat diet.
Physics students will be able to calculate and measure the
energy in a system of colliding dynamics carts before and after an inelastic
Students will be able to list at least three benefits and
three drawbacks of the use of DDT in this country during the 1950’s.
Fifth grade students will make and record observations of
the weather conditions over a two week period of time, noting clouds, precipitation,
temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure.
Moving from established aims to goals, and from goals
to objectives assures that the educational program addresses topics which
are important to all parties involved. The aims which guide the development
of goals should be clearly articulated. The goals should be feasible. Finally,
instructional objectives should be written which are appropriate for moving
a specific group of learners toward the goals and aims of the educational
program. Individual courses will enjoy broad-based support when objectives,
goals, and aims are clearly written, widely accepted, and consistent. And,
most importantly, the learning that occurs in these courses precedes more
efficiently and achieves higher levels of understanding.