Teaching-learning(Educational) objectives are statements describing desired changes in behavior as a result of specific teaching-learning activity. 

Behavior is what the student should know or be able to do after teaching-learning activity, i.e. Therefore in education: the objective describes students’ performance, not teacher performance. 


Educational objectives refer to what the student should be able to do at the end of a learning activity.

Difference between goal and objectives

Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably but they are different in the following ways


Long-term aims that you want to accomplishShort-term statements
They are broad statements (e.g., students should know the human body)Narrow statements (e.g., students should name all bones of the human body)
They are abstract and IntagibleThey are concrete and tangible


  • Objectives inform students what is required of them so that they can better prepare their work. 
  • Objectives help the planning team to select and design instructional content, material, or methods. It also allows teachers to organize and put into sequence the subject matter. 
  • Objectives provide means of measuring whether students have succeeded in acquiring knowledge and skills. 
  • Objectives provide a basis for self-evaluating both the student’s learning. 
  • Objectives provide the best means for communicating to colleagues, parents, and others what is to be taught and learnt.


An objective should be SMART:

  • Specific: No argument, dispute about the meaning. It should clearly communicate an expected behavior modification. It should be unequivocal (not to bear more than one meaning); hence avoid words like to know, understand since they are not specific.
  • Measurable: There should be provision to evaluate the end result, i.e., quantified in an objective way. The measure should be observable so that one can view the progress.
  • Achievable: Can be attained/performed within the allocated time and with available resources.
  • Realistic: Makes sense in the situation, i.e., should have a direct relationship with the aims of learning and based on the needs of the learners (relevant).
  • Time-bound: It should have a time frame within which the outcome is evaluated.


The main elements of an objective are:

  1. Condition of performance: An objective always describes the important conditions (if any) under which the performance is to occur. For example, ‘By the end of this session’ or after attending this demonstration.

  2. AudienceThe learner – who will be doing the behavior, like diploma students.

  3. Behavior:  An objective always says what the teacher expects the learner to be able to do. It is the description of the task to be done expressed by an active verb. The performance indicator is the act whose satisfactory performance implies that the student is able to accomplish the task required. For example, ‘student will be able to perform intramuscular injection’ is the student behavior.

  4. Criterion or standard: It specifies the level of performance that the teacher will accept as successful attainment of the objective or describes how well the learner must perform in comparison with a predetermined standard or criteria. For example, ‘correctly’, 100%, ‘accurately’ indicate the criteria.

Determinants of educational objectives
  • Needs of the learner– based on development stage, interests of learner.
  •  Subject matter– appropriate to the contents of the subject.
  • Needs of society– one has to considers the contemporary life outside school.

Classification (Types) of Educational Objectives

Educational objectives are classified differently:

According to the Level of Objectives:

  •  Institutional or general
  •  Departmental or intermediate
  •  Specific / Instructional Objectives
According to the domains of learning:
  •  Cognitive domain
  •  Affective domain
  •  Psychomotor domain
According to the Level of Objectives:

1. Institutional (General) Objectives: These objectives are usually formulated in consensus with general curriculum objectives of the educational program by the curriculum committee of the institute. They are broad in focus and align with what the institution aims to achieve. For instance, at the end of training at a medical college, the medical graduate should be able to diagnose and perform first-level management of acute emergencies promptly and efficiently.

2. Departmental or Intermediate Objectives: Derived from institutional objectives, these objectives are related to a specific learning experience or subject matter. For example, at the end of the training in the Department of Medicine, students should be able to perform methods of first-level management of acute emergencies in medicine.

3. Instructional/Behavioral Objectives: These objectives are specific, precise, attainable, measurable, and correspond to each specific teaching-learning activity. They are formulated by the teacher at the instructional level. For instance, at the end of the training sessions, the students should be able to perform CPR measures outside the hospital also without any access to modern resuscitative equipment.


According to the domains of learning:


Taxonomy means ‘a set of classification principles’, or ‘structure’, and Domain simply means ‘category’.

The most well-known description of learning domains was developed by Benjamin Bloom, hence it is known as “Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Bloom’s taxonomy (classification) of educational objectives divides the learning objectives into three major domains, namely:

  1. The Cognitive Domain (knowledge or intellectual abilities)
  2. The Affective Domain (attitudes, values, or interests)
  3. The Psychomotor Domain (motor skills)

These categories are further categorized according to the level of behavior, progressing from the simplest to the highly complex.


The Cognitive domain is further subdivided into a hierarchy of six intellectual functions from the simplest to the most complex, as follows:

  1. Knowledge: The ability to memorize, recall, or otherwise repeat previously learnt materials. Action verbs used include; define, state, name, list, describe, write (e.g., define hypertension).
  2. Comprehension: Ability to grasp/understand the meaning of material. Ability to translate data from one form to another in the form of translation, interpretation, and extrapolation. Action verbs used include; classify, explain, justify, convert, formulate (e.g., given a set of B.P values, classify hypertension).
  3. Application: Ability to use material learnt such as rules, concepts, and principles in new and real situations. This demonstrates a higher level of understanding than comprehension. Verbs used include; demonstrate, construct, perform, prepare (e.g., formulate a diet plan for a patient with diabetes).
  4. Analysis: Ability to break down information into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. It separates important aspects from less important. Action verbs include; analyse, justify, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish (e.g., differentiate between hypertensive urgency and emergency).
  5. Synthesis: Ability to build up information together to create something new. The learner is expected to combine various parts to form a new whole. Action verbs include: discuss, summarize, compose, plan, derive (e.g., compose a care plan for a patient with heart failure).
  6. Evaluation: The ability to make judgments, qualitatively and quantitatively based on a definite criteria. Typical verbs include, judge, assess, predict, evaluate, determine, appraise, compare, and contrast.

This domain is divided into five hierarchical levels from the lowest to the highest, as follows:

  1. Receiving: Refers to the student’s willingness to respond or give attention to particular phenomena or activity (classroom activities, textbook, music, etc.). For example, the learner would be able to show awareness of anxiety of the patient waiting for an invasive procedure.
  2. Responding: Refers to active participation on the part of the student to particular phenomena, reflecting interest but not commitment. For instance, the learner would be able to reassure an anxious patient waiting for an invasive procedure.
  3. Valuing: Refers to perception of worth or value in phenomena. For example, the learner would be able to realize that it’s worth spending time reassuring patients whenever they are anxious.
  4. Organization: Refers to bringing together different values, resolving conflicts between them and beginning the building of an internally consistent value system. For instance, the learner would be able to form judgments as to the responsibility of the health care team for commitment towards the emotional well-being of patients.
  5. Characterization: At this level, a student has a value system to the extent of representing a philosophy of life. The learner would be able to display commitment toward emotional well-being of patients undergoing invasive procedures.

These are objectives which emphasize manipulative and motor skills such as handwriting, swimming, typing, operating machinery, and driving, etc. This domain is divided into six ascending levels of manipulative skills as follows:

  1. Readiness: Refers to the willingness to perform an activity. For instance, the learner develops interest in learning how to establish an IV infusion.
  2. Observation: Refers to attending the performance by a more experienced person. For instance, the learner observes the mentor establishing an IV infusion.
  3. Perception/Imitation: Refers to sensation and being able to perform the skill. The basic rudiments/steps of the skills acquired. For example, the learner mentions steps needed in the establishment of an IV infusion as observed.
  4. Practice/Response: Refers to practicing a skill or repetition of the sequence of phenomena as conscious effort decreases. For example, the learner performs the establishment of an IV infusion on the patient as demonstrated by the teacher.
  5. Adapting: Refers perfection of the skill, although further improvement is possible. For example, the learner demonstrates mastery of establishing an IV infusion.
  6. Origination: It involves the origination of new movement patterns to suit a particular circumstance. For example, design a split to restrain the forearm of the child on IV infusion.


a) Provides an opportunity for the teacher to examine the content to teach.
b) Motivates the teacher to present the content in a student-friendly manner.
c) Helps the teacher determine whether he/she has actually taught what was intended to be delivered.
d) Allows the teacher to evaluate a student’s performance.
e) Justifies the selection of content, learning experiences, and teaching-learning methods.


a) Most objectives relate to the lowest cognitive level (recall of information), which is the least important. This means that the really important outcomes of education receive little attention.
b) The procedure employed for specifying objectives applies best to cognitive and psychomotor behaviors. Only rarely can objectives in the affective domain (attitudes) be stated in observable and measurable terms.
c) They lead to predictability of outcomes rather than open-endedness, discovery, and creativity opportunities for learners.
d) A teacher cannot specify in advance all potential outcomes of an instructional program. This narrow path of an objective may hinder useful un-anticipated needs and outcomes.

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