|Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio
Identifying Pedagogical Goals, Objectives & Outcomes
Pre-service teachers are often confused about how to state the pedagogical goals, objectives & outcomes for their lessons. This is because, in general language usage, words like goals and objectives can be used to mean many different things. Indeed, even in this class, we tend to use goals and objectives fairly interchangeably. Basically, when we talk about our pedagogical objectives, we mean the specific expected student learning outcomes. What new skill will the student have the ability to perform after the activity that the student was not capable of doing before the activity? What specific student behavior will you be able to test in order to assess whether your lesson was effective? What specific knowledge will the student be able to demonstrate? Although in common speech we talk about general and specific objectives, in this course, we mean specific objectives. We expect that all students entering this program's MSED program with their initial certification in hand are able to identify the objectives of any lesson and create their own lessons designed to achieve specific student learning outcomes.
Your objectives should be clear to you before you design the activities for your lesson. After all, if you don't know your objectives, how do you know what you are trying to teach? How do you know exactly what it is that you are going to assess? Knowing what your specific objectives are determines what activities you plan to use in order to meet those objectives. In backward design, for instance, you plan your assessment before you create your lesson, but planning an assessment begins with identifying what specific enduring skills, understandings, and knowledge constitute your goals.
- Stage 1 - What are the desired results? (objectives)
- Stage 2 - How will you verify these results? (assessment)
- Stage 3 - How will you design the learning experience? (instruction)
Is there a difference between goals and objectives? Well, yes and no....
Goals tend to be more general than objectives. You might talk about the overall goals of a unit or a course. But pedagogical goals describe what the student will be capable of doing after the lesson, not the activities that the student will perform during the lesson. Sometimes people talk about vague or highly general goals; those are not the kinds of goals we are talking about here.
- Students will be able to use past tenses to talk about the things they used to do when they were children.
- Students will be able to produce basic household vocabulary to describe their own home.
- Students will be able to read and understand a class schedule in the Target Language.
- Students will be able to list the contexts in which formal and informal forms are used.
Objectives tend to be more specific. Many objectives might contribute to the overall goals of a unit. But goals and objectives often overlap in common parlance, and the goals listed above can also be considered objectives in some contexts.
- Student will be able to accurately use common irregular verbs in the past tense.
- Student will be able to identify a future verb form.
- Student will be able to describe the characteristics of 10 major impressionist painters.
- Student will be able to explain the role of bread in a French meal.
What objectives are NOT! Objectives are NOT the things that students do during the lesson. Objectives are NOT things that the student understands or appreciates. Objectives are NOT broad long-term goals such as "improving their ability to communicate."
For further discussion of goals and objectives: