Bookmark and Share

Writing Objectives

The UCC Bylaws state the following in regards to course objectives: "These objectives should be written in such a way as to reflect the desired outcomes from the course as observed in student behaviors. They must indicate demonstrable learning expected of the student for the successful completion of the course."

The main points stated above are: 1) the objectives be student centered; that is, it is an outcome the student will achieve and 2) the objectives are measurable in that they are written in a way that the desired outcome or objective is something the student will do.

The following are examples of objectives from various courses that follow this format:

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

          • State strategies that women can use to manage their health care and enhance their wellness.
          • Describe specific environmental and occupational factors that affect the wellness of women in today's society.
          • Relate the recent technological advancements that can assist women in achieving and maintaining wellness.
          • Explain children's rights in criminal and family court.
          • Compare different types of testimony such as eyewitness testimony, confessions and hypnotically produced evidence.
          • Explain the environmental stimuli in today's society which impact on persons of various cultural and religious groups.
          • Identify those laws affecting copyright and explain the major components of those laws.
          • Demonstrate the procedure for securing copyright registration and identify benefits of registration.
          • Summarize an understanding of the evolution and impact of participatory and spectator recreation and sport.
          • Relate classroom experiences to theoretical principles of learning, human development and instruction.

The bold words are action verbs obtained from the last column of the table below.

Major Categories in the Cognitive Domain of the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Bloom, 1956)

Examples of General Instructional Objectives and Behavioral Terms for the Cognitive Domain of the Taxonomy

Descriptions of the Major Categories in the Cognitive Domain Illustrative General Instructional Objectives Illustrative Behavioral Term, Stating Specific Learning Outcomes
Knowledge. Knowledge is defined as the remembering of previously learned material This may involve the recall of a wide range of material, from specific facts to complete theories, but all that is required is the bringing to mind of the appropriate information. Knowledge represents the lowest level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain.
  • Knows common terms
  • Knows specific facts
  • Knows methods and procedures
  • Knows basic concepts
  • Knows principles
Defines, describes, identifies, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, produces, selects, states
Comprehension. Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of material. This may be shown by translating material from one form to another (words to numbers), by interpreting material (explaining or summarizing), and by estimating future trends (predicting consequences or effects). These learning outcomes go one step beyond the simple remembering of material, and represent the lowest level of understanding.
  • Understands facts and principles
  • Interprets verbal material
  • Interprets charts and graphs
  • Translates verbal material to mathematical formulas
  • Estimates future consequences implied in data
  • Justifies methods and procedures
  • Applies concepts and principles to new situations
Converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives examples, infers, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes
Application. Application refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations. This may include the application of such things as rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, and theories. Learning outcomes in this area require a higher level of understanding than those under comprehension.
  • Applies concepts and principles to new situations
  • Applies laws and theories to practical situations
  • Solves mathematical problems
  • Constructs charts and graphs
  • Demonstrates correct usage of a method or procedure
Changes, computes, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses
Analysis. Analysis refers to the ability to break down material into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. This may include the identification of the parts, analysis of the relationships between parts, and recognition of the organizational principles involved. Learning outcomes here represent a higher intellectual level than comprehension and application because they require an understanding of both the content and the structural form of the material.
  • Recognizes unstated assumptions
  • Recognizes logical fallacies in reasoning
  • Distinguishes between facts and inferences
  • Evaluates the relevancy of data
  • Analyzes the organizational structure of a work (art, music, writing)
Breaks down, diagrams, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, points out, relates, selects, separates, subdivides
Synthesis. Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole. This may involve the production of a unique communication (theme or speech), a plan of operations (research proposal), or a set of abstract relations (scheme for classifying information). Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formulation of new patterns or structures.
  • Writes a well organized theme
  • Gives a well organized speech
  • Writes a creative short story (or poem, or music)
  • Proposes a plan for an experiment
  • Integrates learning from different areas into a plan for solving a problem
  • Formulates a new scheme for classifying objects (or events, or ideas)
Categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes
Evaluation. Evaluation is concerned with the ability to judge the value of material (statement, novel, poem, research report) for a given purpose. The judgments are to be based on definite criteria. These may be internal criteria (organization) or external criteria (relevance to the purpose) and the student may determine the criteria or be given them. Learning outcomes in this area are highest in the cognitive hierarchy because they contain elements of all of the other categories, plus conscious value judgments based on clearly defined criteria.
  • Judges the logical consistency of written material
  • Judges the adequacy with which conclusions are supported by data
  • Judges the value of a work (art, music, writing) by use of internal criteria
  • Judges the value of a work (art, music, writing) by use of external standards of excellence
Appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticizes, describes, discriminates, explains, justifies, interprets, relates, summarizes, supports
source: Gronlund, N. E.. (1970). Stating Behavioral Objectives for Classroom Instruction. Toronto: The Macmillan Company.