Guiding Principles in Determining and Formulating Learning Objectives

1. Begin with the end in mind

“Begin with the end in mind,” says Covey, the author of “Seven Habits of Effective People”. In the context of teaching, this means that we must begin our lesson with a clearly defined lesson objective. With a clear and specific lesson objective we will have a sense of direction. With a definite lesson objective in mind, we do not lose sight of what we intend to teach. No amount of far-fetched question or comment from our students, no amount of unnecessary interruption or disruption can derail our intended lesson for the day. With a specific objective, our lesson becomes more focused. We do not waste nor kill time for we are sure of what to teach, how to teach, what materials to use.

2. Share lesson objective with students.

Like a seminar that begins with a statement of purpose, our lesson ought to begin with a statement and clarification of our lesson objective. Make known to our students our instructional objective and encourage them to make the lesson objective their own. This lesson objective when shared and possessed by our students will become their personal target. It is against this personal target that they will evaluate themselves at the end of the lesson. When our students set their own personal targets we are certain that they will become more self-motivated.

3. Lesson objectives must be in the two or three domain knowledge (cognitive) skill, (psychomotor) and values (affective).

Our lesson maybe dominantly cognitive, psychomotor or affective. Dominantly cognitive if it is meant primarily for knowledge acquisition and dominantly psychomotor if it is intended for the acquisition and honing of skills. Lesson objectives in the affective domain are mainly focused on attitude and value formation. A cognitive or a skill lesson must always include the affective dimension for wholistic learning.

A lesson objective that dwells on trivia is hardly a motivating force. What if a student is able to identify the parts of a plant? What has that to do with him/her and his/her life? In other words, a lesson is worthwhile if it gets connected to everyday life, how the student is and ought to be concerned with it, what difference it makes for a fuller existence.

We will find it very difficult sometimes to determine whether a lesson objective is in the cognitive or psychomotor domain. When you face the difficulty, don’t let it bother you. If we come to think of it even a dominantly cognitive lesson includes teaching of skills, say for instance intellectual skills like reasoning aid inferring. Likewise an intended lesson objective in the psychomotor domain such as “to focus the microscope under low and high — power objectives in 30 seconds” includes the cognitive element of knowing the parts and functions of each part of the microscope and understanding the “do’s” and the “dont’s” in focusing a microscope. Furthermore, a lesson objective geared towards the formation of desirable attitudes and habits has definitely a cognitive base. We may not succeed in effecting change in attitude and behavior in people (affective) without

explaining what the desired attitudinal and behavioral change is all about and why such change is desired. (cognitive)

Anyway, what is most important according to this principle is that our lesson is wholistic and complete because it dwells on knowledge and values or on skills and values or on knowledge, skills and values. If we teach only knowledge, this is incomplete for this may not in any way touch and bring about change in the learner. We may end up with more head knowledge that is measured in test then completely forgotten after the test. If we teach only skill unaccompanied by values. we may contribute to the formation of people who will have. all the skills to oppress, to abuse and to take advantage of the unskilled and the unlearned. So it is necessity that our lesson gets direction trout objectives in the two or three domains with the affective domain always present.

4. Work on significant and relevant lesson objectives.

With our lesson objective becoming our students’ lesson objective, too, our students Nvkill be self-propelled as we teach. The level of their self-motivation all the more increases when our lesson objective is relevant to their daily life, hence, significant.

5. Lesson objective must be aligned with the aims of education as embodied in the Philippine Constitution and other laws and on the vision-mission statements of the educational institution of which you are a part.

The aims of education as enshrined in our fundamental law of the land, in the Education Act of 1982, the Ten-Year Medium Term Development Plan must be reflected in the vision-mission statements of educational institutions. In turn, the vision-mission statements of educational institutions must filter down to the course objectives stated in course syllabi and in lesson objectives laid down in lesson plans.

This means that the aims and goals of education as provided for in our laws filter down to our lesson objectives. We have something to do with the attainment of our broad aims of education. We can contribute very much to the realization of our school’s vision and mission statements because our lesson objectives are based on our school’s vision and mission statements. Imagine what happens when our lesson objectives are not in any way related to the goals of education and to the vision-mission statements of the educational institutions where we work.

6. Aim at the development of critical and creative thinking.

This is said more than done. We need not go into a laborious research to be convinced that the development of critical and creative thinking is wanting in classrooms. Most questions asked whether oral or written are convergent, low-level ques-tions. With teachers quite used to awarding and praising pupils/students giving the right answers and sometimes branding the pupil or student who asks questions “pilosopo”, the classroom atmosphere that prevails is not ripe for the development of critical and creative thinking. If we want to contribute to the development of citizens who are critical and creative thinkers, the type of citizens needed to make democracy, then we should include in our scope of questions high-level, divergent, or open-ended questions. It must be good likewise not to frown on students who question a lot — all for the development of critical and creative thinking. Our teaching strategies and techniques must be such that they serve as catalyst in the development of higher-order-thinking skills (HOTS) and creative thinking skills.

For this reason the whole brain must be used for balanced learning not just the left for critical thinking but also the right for creative thinking.

7. For accountability of learning, lesson objectives must be SMART, i.e., Specific Measureable, Attainable, Result-oriented and Relevant Time-bound and Terminal.

When our lesson objective is SMART it is quite easy to find out at the end of our lesson if we attained our objective or not. It will also be easier on our part to formulate a test that is valid to measure the attainment of our lesson objective. Moreover, our lesson becomes more focused for we have a concrete picture of the behavior that our students should be able to demonstrate if we realized our lesson objective. In short, SMART objectives increase our accountability for the learning of our students. With SMART objectives we depart from the unsound practice of teaching that is so spread out that in the end we find ourselves unclear on what test we are going to give to assess learning. With SMART lesson objectives, there is greater match between instruction and assessment. There is curriculum alignment.