Discuss the importance of setting objectives in curriculum design.

Quick answer:

Objectives are a key component of the curriculum design process, as they help teachers determine learning outcomes (what they should teach and what students should learn), methods of instruction, and objective ways to measure student progress and performance.

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Objectives stand alongside content at the center of any curriculum, as they allow teachers and students to have a clear view right from the start of the knowledge and skills to be mastered (the learning outcomes). They also provide a method of teaching such knowledge and skills and an objective way to measure students through processes mastered, performance of various tasks, and/or the products of learning activities.

Let's look at an example to illustrate the necessity of objectives in designing curriculum. Say a teacher is designing a curriculum unit on writing a descriptive essay. Her objectives for the lessons are: 1. students will learn the nature of descriptive writing; 2. students will learn how to effectively use the writing process to plan a descriptive essay; 3. students will learn how to outline an essay; 4. students will draft an essay and then revise the essay based on instructor and peer critiques.

The teacher also takes some time to plan her methods for meeting these objectives or learning outcomes. She decides to have the students read three descriptive essays from their readers and annotate them, pointing out the main ideas of each as well as especially vivid passages. The students will then participate in a class discussion about these essays. The teacher will also provide a lesson in the writing process and assign students to prewrite and outline their essays accordingly. After she reviews their writing process work, the students will draft their essays. Then they will hand in a copy to the instructor and exchange with others students. Using the feedback they receive, they will revise their essays and turn in a final draft.

As she continues to plan her curriculum, the teacher also decides how to measure the students' achievements. She will assign pass/fail grades to their prewriting activities and outlines as well as give the students plenty of feedback. She will also evaluate their discussion skills and the feedback they offer to their peers. The essay draft will be graded pass/fail, but the final draft will receive a letter grade based on the essay rubric the teacher uses for her classes.

We can see, then, that objectives help the teacher keep track of what she must teach (and what students should be learning), how she must teach it, and how she should assess student progress.

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Learning objectives are no different than goals, because they serve four main purposes:

  1. to describe the purpose of an activity (or intervention)
  2. to establish the desired result
  3. to identify the methodology to be used to get there
  4. to determine how success will be measured

This being said, learning objectives are to be stated quite specifically so that they can be the most useful at directing the instructor as to what course of action to take. Not all objectives stem from the same source. In fact, any experienced educator can tell you that the academic, or learning, objective is only one third of the complete goal. This is because there are three kinds of objectives in academia:

  1. the learning objective- establishes what the students are going learn by the end of the lesson. It is all based on cognitive and developmental ability.
  2. behavioral (doing) objectives- will determine what skills and abilities the teacher wants the students to develop, or master, by the end of the lesson.
  3. affective/schematic objectives- will list the essential questions and main lessons that the teacher would want the students to think about and relate to themselves as individuals.

There is something even more important to consider when it comes to objectives: they are not created to determine whether a student can or cannot "do" something. Instead, they are created to establish what additional interventions need to be considered for the students to develop to the point of working at an independent level of mastery. This is why we have two sub-sections of learning objectives

Mastery objectives are the less demanding tasks that should be covered before the next unit. For example, a student cannot move on to learn division if they cannot master multiplication. In theory they CAN, but imagine how difficult it would be to teach a process that is interdependent of another until at least one of them is mastered.

The second type is the developmental objective, which could be applied to something more complex and extensive, such as (for example), the writing process. Since the writing process is a year-long succession of trials, errors, crafting, adding, and editing, teachers cannot just pretend to have students become master writers after teaching one unit. Thus, developmental objectives are ongoing goals to motivate students to continue to improve.

Conclusively, the importance of setting the PROPER objectives in curriculum designing is that they provide guidance, a vision, a mission, a method, and a goal. It is a comprehensive plan of action that, when applied as planned, will undoubtedly result in great success.

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When designing a curriculum, objectives are of the utmost importance. Without setting objectives, the teacher has no clue as to what the focus of the lesson is on or if students are learning what needs to be learned.

With the National Core Curriculum (the new American standard for teachers), objectives are of the utmost importance. The Core requires that teachers name, identify, and define the assessments needed to define the objectives for the unit or lesson.

Essentially, without objectives, learning cannot be assessed. While there are both formal (testing/quizzes) and informal (discussion) assessments, each defines that students are learning something.

Here is an example:

Unit: Poetry

Lesson Focus: Poetic Devices

Objectives: Students will be able to identify and define the following poetic devices: simile, metaphor, alliteration, and assonance.

When assessing student knowledge, students should be tested on their ability to identify and define the states poetic devices. If the majority of the students cannot define and identify the poetic devices, the objective was not met.

I have linked an essay on student objectives for further examination and explanation.

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