Goals are important expressions of our values and “give learners, parents, and the community the reasons [we] are teaching the lessons” planned. Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice by Gary Borich provides five factors worth considering when “establishing goals for what should be learned:
- The subject matter we know enough about tot teach (subject-matter mastery)
- Societal concerns, which represent what is valued in both the society at large and the local community
- Student needs and interests and the abilities and knowledge they bring to school
- Your school’s educational philosophy and your community’s priorities
- What instructional theory and research tells us can be taught in the classroom” (Borich, 2010, p. 81).
But goals are broad and do not necessarily facilitate or motivate successful learning. From goals, we derive standards which “more specifically identify what must be accomplished and who must do what in order to meet the goals” (Borich, 2010, p. 80). In more recent years, re-evaluations of standards reveal the importance of “commitment to developing a ‘thinking curriculum,’ one that focuses on teaching learner how to think critically, reason, and problem solve in authentic, real-world contexts” (p. 82).
From standards, educators derive objectives, “which convey specific behaviors to be attained, the conditions under which the behaviors must be demonstrated, and the proficiency level at which the behaviors are to be performed based on the learning histories, abilities, and current levels of understanding” of the learners (Borich, 2010, p. 80). Practically speaking, the purpose of an objective is to identify the strategies through which standards can be achieved and to express strategies in a way that allows one to measure their effects on students; a “statement that achieves these two purposes is called a behavioral objective” (p. 84). When organizing lesson plans and writing objectives, it is important to remember that using specific, observable, action verbs allows students to easily identify the task at hand and provides measurability of the observable outcome.
Borich, G.D. (2010). Effective Teaching Methods (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.