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Cognitive Learning Objectives

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A curriculum is designed as a response to education and/or training needs, and the degree of precision of articulating the learning objectives is directly related to achieving the desired learning outcomes.
Additionally, learning objectives can be derived from a knowledge/skill gap identified in a front-end needs analysis. Consequently, the goal of creating learning objectives is to provide a means of clarifying the purpose of instruction to ensure the training/education is successful and the objectives are achieved. Clearly identifying learning objectives improves the communication between the instructor and the learner for a given course/learning module so the student knows precisely what is expected of him/her. When the objectives of a course have been clearly identified and presented in an orderly progression, the desired learning outcomes will be attained. They may also assist in the choice of the instructional delivery method(s) and instructional strategies when designing a learning activity, as well as establishing criteria for student performance when assessing student learning outcomes (Dick, Carey, & Carey, 2005). “When clearly defined objectives are lacking, there is no sound basis for the selection or designing of instructional materials, instructional strategies, or assessments” (Mager,1999) . “A properly written objective tells you what specific knowledge, skill, or attitude is desired and what method of instruction and criteria for learner achievement are required” (Lohr, n.d., pp 7). A learning objective (also referred to as instructional objective or performance objective) is a succinct statement that describes the specific learning activity and includes a description of a performance you want learners to be able to exhibit in order to evaluate competency. It is expressed in terms of the student and formulated in terms of observable behavior and the special conditions in which the behavior is manifested. An instructional objective describes an intended outcome of instruction rather than an instructional procedure (Mager, 1999).
Classification of Learning Objectives
Learning objectives can be categorized as either general or specific.
General or overall objective
Statement of the trend of the learning activity. The general objective defines the outcome of the instructional unit and represents the general orientation of lesson. The general objective is the first level of specification of the lesson/unit of instruction and sometimes referred to as Terminal
Course Objectives (TCO) or Terminal Learning Objectives. Each terminal objective is analyzed and broken down into smaller objectives that measure an element of the terminal learning objective. A terminal learning objective is at the highest level of learning appropriate to the human performance requirements a student will accomplish (Clark, 1995).
Specific objective
Sometimes referred to as learning objectives, enabling objectives, performance objectives, instructional objectives, or behavioral objectives, an “...objective is a detailed description of what students will be able to do when they complete a unit of instruction” (Dick et al., 2005. pp 125) and are derived from the general objectives or TCOs. It is expressed in terms of the student and formulated in terms of observable behavior and the special conditions in which the behavior is manifested. The specific objective is the second level of specification of the lesson and must be developed for each of the tasks selected in the learning program (Mager, 1975).
The following general rules should prove useful in writing specific instructional objectives:
4
• Be Concise. An instructional objective is a specific statement of what the learners will be able to do when they complete the instruction (Dick et al., 2005)
• Be Singular. Should focus on one aspect of behavior
• Be Realistic. An instructional objective should focus on observable behavior, not on teacher illusions or indefinable traits.
Difference between an instructional goal and a general learning objective
An instructional goal is a statement of the intended general outcome of an instructional unit. An instructional goal statement describes a more global learning outcome, while a learning objective is a statement of specific performances which contributes to the attainment of the goal. A single goal may have numerous specific learning objectives, and “for every unit of instruction that has a goal, there is a terminal objective” (Dick et al., 2005, pp 131).
Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
Following the 1948 Convention of the American Psychological Association, a group of college examiners considered the utility of a system of classifying educational goals for the evaluation of student performance. To these examiners, a classification system represented the appropriate place to start (Schugurensky, 1996-2002). Years later and as a result of this effort, Benjamin Bloom formulated a classification of "the goals of the educational process". Eventually, Bloom established a hierarchy of educational objectives for categorizing level of abstraction of questions that commonly occur in educational settings (Bloom, 1965). This classification is generally referred to as Bloom's
Taxonomy, and consists of three overlapping “domains”: the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective
(Clark, 1999).
Cognitive domain
Demonstrated by knowledge recall and the intellectual skills: comprehending information, organizing ideas, analyzing and synthesizing data, applying knowledge, choosing among alternatives in problem solving, and evaluating ideas or actions (Mager, 1999).
Affective domain
Demonstrated by behaviors indicating attitudes of awareness, interest, attention, concern, responsibility, ability to listen and respond in interactions with others, and ability to demonstrate those attitudinal characteristics or values which are appropriate to the test situation and the field of study
(Learning Taxonomy-Krathwohl's Affective Domain, n.d.). This domain relates to emotions, attitudes, appreciations, and values, such as enjoying, conserving, respecting, and supporting. Its domain levels include: Receiving, responding, valuing, organization, and character of value.
Psychomotor domain
Focus is on physical and kinesthetic skills. This domain is characterized by progressive levels of behaviors from observation to mastery of a physical skill (Psychomotor Domain Taxonomy, n.d.).
Psychomotor learning is demonstrated by physical skills: Coordination, dexterity, manipulation, grace, strength, speed; actions which demonstrate the fine motor skills such as use of precision instruments or tools, or actions which evidence motor skills. Domain levels include: Perception, set, guided response, mechanism, complex or overt response, adaptation (Learning Taxonomy-
Simpson’s Psychomotor Domain, n

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