Everything in the nature will be done for particular purpose; it becomes easy to achieve it when we know its objectives or goal as well. Such as every pilot has a route-chart and set timing of landing at predetermined destination. Every country has a constitution or set of Principles and traditions, through which a country is governed.

Similarly, education is a purposeful and planed activity which is under taken by the educator and the learner for achieving clear cut objective or ends in view. Without an end or objective no purposeful activity will have that real force which directs it and makes it meaningful. It is said that “education without clear cut aims and objective is like a rudderless ship.”

In any educational programme to be effective the purposes and objectives are to be clearly stated So that it is easy to select the right subject matter, the clinical experience and the right method to be evaluate the student’s performance and the teaching learning process.

Educational aim

They are broad and general statements of educational intent, and it should inform students the overall purpose of a programme or module. They are often written for the provider (lecturer / tutor) rather than receiver (student) terms.

The aims are always written before the objectives. It is usually two or three sentences long. Having too many aims leads to confusion and our work will lack focus.

The aims express the subject provider’s broad purposes in presenting each programme of study in the subject. These aims address the question ‘why is the education provided?’

The aims might be stated in terms of some mixture of –

  • the meeting of local, regional or national need
  • preparation for the prosecution of research
  • social goals, such as the widening access to higher education or increasing the degree of student control over course selection or pattern of study
  • enabling students to continue to appreciate or pursue independent study in the subject

Educational Objectives

The result sought by the learner at the end of the educational program, ie “what the students should be able to do at the end of a learning period that they could not do beforehand.”    J.-J GUILBERT

Educational objectives are also called “learning objectives” as opposed to “teaching objectives”. They define what the student, not the teacher, should be able to do.

The objectives are more specific target which is set in order to achieve the overall aim or we can say that they are the steps to achieve the overall goal or aim.

The objective are more focused statement which describes what the learner will able to do as a result of teaching or learning.

The objectives are the individual stages that learner must achieve on the way in order to reach the aim. They are specific ways of achieving the aims.

The objectives are developed out of aims. They are usually listed as statement using bullet points. We can have many objectives to fulfill a aim.

The reason for formulating objectives is to indicate what changes in behaviour is hoped to bring about in the student as a result of the courses being offered.

Difference between aims and objectives

Educational aim’s

Educational Objectives

Aims are generally difficult to measure.

Aims are general intentions.

Aims are intangible.

Aims are abstract.

Aims are broad

Objectives are narrow

Objectives are precise.

Objectives are tangible.

Objectives are concrete.

Objectives are measurable.

The Purpose of Educational Objectives

  • Foster a common understanding or expectation among instructors, students and administrators regarding what an educational activity aims to accomplish.
  • Define an activity’s place or role within a broader program.
  • Guide students about where they should focus their learning efforts.
  • Establish standards against which an activity can be evaluated.


Characteristics of Effective Objectives:

  • Focus entirely on students
  • Emphasize core skills and content
  • Relate directly back to program goals
  • Define learning levels
  • Measurable within the confines of the course
  • Specific
  • Realistic
  • Clearly and concisely written
  • Strive for higher order learning

Importance of educational Objectives

Educational Objectives are important, because these are guides to –

  • Selection of content
  • Development of an instructional strategy.
  • Development and selection of instructional materials.
  • Construction of tests and other instruments for assessing and then evaluating student learning outcomes.

Types of educational objectives

  1. General / Institutional objectives
  2. Intermediate / Departmental objectives
  3. Specific/ instructional/ behavioral objectives

These three types of objectives, taken together, make up the Professional Profile

Relationship between professional acts in the health field and educational objectives


General / Institutional objectives: professional function

  • Correspond to the functions of the type of health personnel trained in an establishment.
  • General objectives are a set of statements identifying the major skills that all the graduates/ participants of the program should possess at the completion of their studies.
  • General educational objectives provide a useful basis for preparation of a relevant programme.
  • When we compare the general objective to the programme functions, we may find that some of the items are almost identical. At this general level the acts required to meet the health needs of the population will have some points in common all over the world.
  • At this level of general functions it is not surprising that nurses, physicians, midwives or dentists, for example, should exercise similar types of functions, such as treatment, prevention, planning, education of the public, training of colleagues, etc. The differences between the professions will emerge from the more detailed list of intermediate objectives, describing the activities of each category and from the even more specific list of tasks. The different types of objectives form a whole. They are given meaning by their relationships and interdependence. Taken together they make up the professional profile.
  • What should be noted at this stage is that all the examples are relatively short (one page) and rather vague. We will also note that they define everything the students should be able to do at the end of their training.
  • They do not define what the teachers do but rather what the institution’s “end-product” is. They are also known as institutional objectives.


  • The graduate of the new baccalaureate nursing programme will be prepared to function as a generalist with beginning competencies in a specialized area of nursing.
  • The graduate will be prepared to function in a variety of settings and be able to:
  1. Obtain health histories and make general health assessments.
  2. Provide safe and competent care in emergency situations and acute illnesses.
  3. Provide supportive care to persons with chronic or terminal health problems.
  4. Provide health teaching, guidance and counselling.
  5. Assist persons to maintain optimal health status.
  6. Provide for continuity of health services.
  7. Assume leadership responsibility for planning and evaluating nursing care.
  8. Work effectively with all persons concerned with health care problems.

Intermediate/Departmental objective: professional activity

  • Arrived at by breaking down professional functions into components (activities) which together indicate the nature of those functions.
  • Intermediate objectives are a set of statements identifying the skills to be acquired by all students who are taught within a particular school/ department/division, of a nursing college. These skills must be consistent with the institutional objective.


  • These intermediate educational objectives were derived from general objectives defining the functions of a general practitioner. They refer to the paediatric aspect of the work.
  • The general practitioner should be able to carry out the following activities:
  • Diagnose and treat major childhood disorders:
    1. abnormal development of the embryo or fetus
    2. infections in newborn babies
    3. emergency surgery on newborn babies
    4. jaundice of the newborn
    5. vomiting in infants
    6. cardiac insufficiency
    7. acute diarrhoea
    8. dehydration
    9. convulsions
    10. purulent meningitis
    11. tuberculous meningitis
    12. tuberculosis
    13. eruptive fevers
    14. viral bronchopneumonia
    15. bacterial pneumonia
    16. septicaemia
    17. childhood skin disorders
    18. urinary infections
    19. acute glomerular affections
    20. abdominal tumours
    21. enlargement of liver
    22. enlargement of adenoids
    23. enlargement of spleen
    24. kala azar
    25. malaria
    26. throat infections
    27. otitis
  • orthopaedic problems in children
  • Carry out activities relating to patient care, taking of samples, laboratory work and use of equipment.
    1. Sampling techniques: – blood (including blood from umbilical cord); abscess; cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); urine and puncture of ascites, pleura
    2. Techniques relating to patient care, preventive measures and laboratory work: – Immunization; perfusion, intramuscular injection, transfusion; catheterization, enema; blood grouping; haematocrit; erythrocyte sedimentation rate and CSF count
    3. Use of equipment:- sphygmomanometer; otoscope; aerosol spray; aspirator; electrocardiograph and ophthalmoscope
  • Distinguish between normal newborn babies and those at risk; organize prevention and early detection of possible dangers.
    1. Recognize growth anomalies.
    2. Recognize anomalies of psycho-motor development.
    3. Work out with the parents a diet suitable for the needs of their child.
    4. Recognize dietary anomalies.
    5. Plan a surveillance programme for a normal child and for one at risk.
    6. Enter findings in the child’s medical record.
  • ………. so on.

Specific/ instructional objectives: professional task

  • Corresponding to (or derived from) precise professional tasks whose results are observable and measurable against given criteria.
  • Specific educational objective can be defined as a task accompanied by criteria indicating an acceptable level of performance for its principal component.

Specific Objective = Task + Criteria

  • Specific objective oar description of programme the instruction is expected to produce. These objectives help to identify the terminal outcomes of instruction in term of observable performance of learner.
  • These are further categorized into –
  1. Basic instructional objective (BIO): A brief, clear statement of basic skill/ competence which is to be demonstrated at the conclusion of a unit instruction.
  2. Specific instructional objective (SIO): A brief, clear statement of a single skill directly related to BIO and stated in terms of observable student behavior.

Elements of a specific educational objective

  • Specific Objective = Task + Criteria
  • Task = The Act + The Content + The Condition
  • Specific Objective =    {The Act + The Content + The Condition} + The Criteria

So, the elements of a specific educational objective are –

  • The act – appropriate action verb to be used
  • The content – what is to be implemented or performed?
  • The condition – with or without help of equipment’s, books, specimen’s reports etc.
  • The criteria – minimum level of performance.

 Act and Content

  • The act is expressed by an active verb describing the intent of the task aimed at.
  • The content specifies the subject in relation to which the act is to be performed.


  • Repair a binocular microscope” or
  • Take a sample of venous blood”.
  • The act is the verb in italic & bold; the rest of the sentence is the content.
  • It is perfectly acceptable for the description of the act (of a specific objective) to be stated in terms of a “performance indicator” and not in terms of the actual act required, as long as the latter is quite clear.
  • The performance indicator is the description of an act whose satisfactory performance implies that the student is able to accomplish the actual act required.


Underline in the diagram the names of all the veins that pass in front of the corresponding artery.”

Here it is obvious that if the act consists of “underlining” it is only a performance indicator which shows that the student is able to “distinguish veins passing in front from those in any other position”.

  • In all cases, the appropriate procedure with regard to the act (the actual act or a performance indicator) is as follows:
  • Identify the act (for example, by underlining it in the sentence).
  • Decide whether it is an actual act or a performance indicator.
    1. If it is a performance indicator, decide whether it enables an inference to be made concerning the actual act.
      • If so, decide whether it can be simplified and whether it corresponds to the student’s level.
      • If not, write another one.
    2. If it is an actual act, decide whether it is explicit or implicit.
      • If it is explicit, decide whether it can be simplified and whether it corresponds to the student’s level.
      • If it is implicit, include a “performance indicator”.


  • This is the description of the resources available for carrying out the act (data, equipment).

Criterion (the acceptable level of performance)

  • The definition of the acceptable level of performance expected from the student. It must be selected in close relationship with the active verb describing the act. It may measure the expected outcome following performance of the act or the process adopted to achieve it. An outcome criterion is preferable, for it provides a better measure of relevance, but it can be selected only if the outcome is entirely within the student’s control.


“Identify on frontal X-ray films of the thorax the presence or absence of opacities of the pulmonary parenchyma, of more than 2 cm diameter in 80% of cases.”

  • Act: “Identify the presence” indicates the act to be performed.
  • Content: “Opacities of the pulmonary parenchyma.”
  • Condition: “Frontal X-ray films of the thorax” are provided to the student.
  • Criterion: The student must identify “in 80% of cases any opacity of over 2 cm diameter”.

qualities of a specific educational objective


  • It should be free of any superfluous material but cover every point relating to the aims in view. Relevance is the essential quality of educational objectives. Objectives that have every quality except relevance are potentially dangerous


  • “Loaded” words (words open to a wide range of interpretations) should not be used, to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding.
  • What do we mean when we say we want a student to “know” something? Do we want him to be able to recite, or to solve, or to construct? To say merely that we want him to “know” tells him too little or too much.
  • The objective is unequivocal when you describe what the learner will have to do to demonstrate that he “knows”, or “understands”, or “can do”.
words often used but open to many interpretations words open to fewer interpretations
to know

to be aware of

to understand

to really understand

to appreciate

to fully appreciate

to believe

to have faith in

to write

to identify

to differentiate

to solve

to construct

to list

to compare

to contrast


  • It must be ensured that what the student is required to do can actually be done, within the time allowed and with the facilities to hand. The basic condition for feasibility: the minimum (practical, communication and intellectual skills) to qualify for the course. This is the prerequisite level.


  • The objective must be internally consistent.


  • It is obvious that unless there is some means of observing progress towards an objective, it will be impossible to tell whether the objective has been achieved.


  • The objective must include an indication of acceptable level of performance on the part of the student. The existence of a creation for measurement will make it easier to choose or to construct a valid evaluation mechanism.
  • One often hears “most of what I teach is intangible and cannot be measured”. Even rough measurement is better than none at all, for if no measurement is made instructors tend to assume that a goal has been achieved just because they have taught the subject. If your teaching skills cannot be evaluated, you are in the awkward position of being unable to demonstrate that you are teaching anything at all. That is why the objective must include an indication of acceptable level of performance on the part of the student.

Classification of the specific objective into three domain

(bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives)

Taxonomy is a hierarchical classification in a given field. It provides a classification of various instructional objectives at suitable levels and in given spheres.

Benjamin Bloom (1956), identified three domains of educational activities:

  • Cognitive: intellectual skills
  • Affective: attitudes or communication skills
  • Psychomotor: practical skills

The Systematic organization of objectives into three domains to help the teachers in precise formulation and evaluates the result of a system of education, helps students to prepare for examinations to obtain the desired end results.

Cognitive Domain

The cognitive domain (Bloom, 1956) involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills. There are six major categories, which are listed in order below, starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That means, the first one must be mastered before the next one can take place.


Category Description
Knowledge Ability to recall previously learned material.
Comprehension Ability to grasp meaning, explain, restate ideas.
Application Ability to use learned material in new situations.
Analysis Ability to separate material into component parts and show relationships between parts.
Synthesis Ability to put together the separate ideas to form new whole, establish new relationships.
Evaluation Ability to judge the worth of material against stated criteria.

This taxonomy was revised in 2001 by Anderson and Krathwohl to change the category names from nouns to verbs, and to switch the Evaluation and Synthesis levels in the hierarchy.


Category Description
Remember Ability to recall previously learned material.
Understand Ability to grasp meaning, explain, restate ideas.
Apply Ability to use learned material in new situations.
Analyze Ability to separate material into component parts and show relationships between parts.
Evaluate Ability to judge the worth of material against stated criteria.
Create Ability to put together the separate ideas to form new whole, establish new relationships.


Category Key Words (verbs)
Remember Defines, Describes, Identifies, Knows, Labels, Lists, Matches, Names, Outlines, Recalls, Recognizes, Reproduces, Selects, States.
Understand Comprehends, Converts, Defends, Distinguishes, Estimates, Explains, Extends, Generalizes, Gives An Example, Infers, Interprets, Paraphrases, Predicts, Rewrites, Summarizes, Translates.
Apply Applies, Changes, Computes, Constructs, Demonstrates, Discovers, Manipulates, Modifies, Operates, Predicts, Prepares, Produces, Relates, Shows, Solves, Uses.
Analyze Analyzes, Breaks Down, Compares, Contrasts, Diagrams, Deconstructs, Differentiates, Discriminates, Distinguishes, Identifies, Illustrates, Infers, Outlines, Relates, Selects, Separates.
Evaluate Appraises, Compares, Concludes, Contrasts, Criticizes, Critiques, Defends, Describes, Discriminates, Evaluates, Explains, Interprets, Justifies, Relates, Summarizes, Supports.
Create Categorizes, Combines, Compiles, Composes, Creates, Devises, Designs, Explains, Generates, Modifies, Organizes, Plans, Rearranges, Reconstructs, Relates, Reorganizes, Revises, Rewrites, Summarizes, Tells, Writes.

Affective Domain

The affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, Masia, 1973) includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes. The five major categories are listed from the simplest behavior to the most complex:





Receiving Being aware of or attending to something in the environment. Individual reads a book passage about civil rights.
Responding Showing some new behaviors as a result of experience. Individual answers questions about the book, reads another book by the same author, another book about civil rights, etc.
Valuing Showing some definite involvement or commitment. The individual demonstrates this by voluntarily attending a lecture on civil rights.
Organization Integrating a new value into one’s general set of values, giving it some ranking among one’s general priorities. The individual arranges a civil rights rally.
Characterization by


Acting consistently with the new value. The individual is firmly committed to the value, perhaps becoming a civil rights leader.


Category Key Words (verbs)
Receiving Asks, Chooses, Describes, Follows, Gives, Holds, Identifies, Locates, Names, Points To, Selects, Sits, Erects, Replies, Uses.
Responding Answers, Assists, Aids, Complies, Conforms, Discusses, Greets, Helps, Labels, Performs, Practices, Presents, Reads, Recites, Reports, Selects, Tells, Writes.
Valuing Completes, Demonstrates, Differentiates, Explains, Follows, Forms, Initiates, Invites, Joins, Justifies, Proposes, Reads, Reports, Selects, Shares, Studies, Works.
Organization Adheres, Alters, Arranges, Combines, Compares, Completes, Defends, Explains, Formulates, Generalizes, Identifies, Integrates, Modifies, Orders, Organizes, Prepares, Relates, Synthesizes.
Characterization by


Acts, Discriminates, Displays, Influences, Listens, Modifies, Performs, Practices, Proposes, Qualifies, Questions, Revises, Serves, Solves, Verifies.

Psychomotor Domain

The psychomotor domain (Simpson, 1972) includes physical movement, coordination, and use of the motor-skill areas. Development of these skills requires practice and is measured in terms of speed, precision, distance, procedures, or techniques in execution. The seven major categories are listed from the simplest behavior to the most complex:

  • Simpson (1972) built this taxonomy on the work of Bloom and others:
  1. Perception – Sensory cues guide motor activity.
  2. Set – Mental, physical, and emotional dispositions that make one respond in a certain way to a situation.
  3. Guided Response – First attempts at a physical skill. Trial and error coupled with practice lead to better performance.
  4. Mechanism – The intermediate stage in learning a physical skill. Responses are habitual with a medium level of assurance and proficiency.
  5. Complex Overt Response – Complex movements are possible with a minimum of wasted effort and a high level of assurance they will be successful.
  6. Adaptation – Movements can be modified for special situations.
  7. Origination – New movements can be created for special situations.
  • Dave (1970) developed this taxonomy:
  1. Imitation – Observing and copying someone else.
  2. Manipulation – Guided via instruction to perform a skill.
  3. Precision – Accuracy, proportion and exactness exist in the skill performance without the presence of the original source.
  4. Articulation – Two or more skills combined, sequenced, and performed consistently.
  5. Naturalization – Two or more skills combined, sequenced, and performed consistently and with ease. The performance is automatic with little physical or mental exertion.
  • Harrow (1972) developed this taxonomy. It is organized according to the degree of coordination including involuntary responses and learned capabilities:
  1. Reflex movements – Automatic reactions.
  2. Basic fundamental movement – Simple movements that can build to more complex sets of movements.
  3. Perceptual – Environmental cues that allow one to adjust movements.
  4. Physical activities – Things requiring endurance, strength, vigor, and agility.
  5. Skilled movements – Activities where a level of efficiency is achieved.
  • The following list is a synthesis of the above taxonomies:





Observing Active mental attending of a physical event. The learner watches a more experienced person. Other mental activity, such as reading may be a pert of the observation process.
Imitating Attempted copying of a physical behavior. The first steps in learning a skill. The learner is observed and given direction and feedback on performance. Movement is not automatic or smooth.
Practicing Trying a specific physical activity over and over. The skill is repeated over and over. The entire sequence is performed repeatedly. Movement is moving towards becoming automatic and smooth.
Adapting Fine tuning. Making minor adjustments in the physical activity in order to perfect it. The skill is perfected. A mentor or a coach is often needed to provide an outside perspective on how to improve or adjust as needed for the situation.





differentiate (by touch)















perform (skillfully)









Formulation of Instructional Objectives

Components of objective

Heinich, Molenda, and Russell (1989) wrote that there are four components of every objective:

  • Audience — who is the target of this objective, and what are the learner’s characteristics. In the ISD process, this is normally covered in the Entry Behaviors section.
  • Behavior — what behavior is expected from the learner to show that he or she has learned the material. Words like “learn,” “appreciate,” and “know” are vague. Instead, use action verbs like “identify,” “demonstrate,” and “list”.
  • Conditions — under what conditions will the learner be expected to demonstrate her knowledge. Will the learner be given graphs, illustrations, reference material, or must she perform from memory?
  • Degree —the standard by which acceptable performance will be judged.

Main Characteristics of Good Objectives

  • Objectives should identify a learning outcome — An objective that states, “the learner will learn Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by studying pages 100 to 115” refers not to an outcome of instruction but to an activity of learning. The objective needs to state what the learner is to perform , not how the learner learns. For example, “The learner will recite the five steps in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Evidence of whether the learners have learned the material lies not in watching them read about it but by listening to them explain the principles in their own words.
  • Objectives should be consistent with course goals — For example, including a objective about the history of personal computers in a word processing course does not match the stated course goal of “correctly use Microsoft Word.” Trainers sometimes try to teach what they think is important or like to instruct, rather than what the learners need to know. When objectives and goals are not consistent, two avenues of approach are available: change (or eliminate) the objective, or change the course goal.
  • Objectives should be precise — It’s sometimes difficult to strike a balance between too much and too little precision in an objective. There is a fine line between choosing objectives that reflect an important and meaningful outcome of instruction, objectives that trivialize information into isolated facts, and objectives that are extremely vague. Remember, the purpose of an objective is to give different people the same understanding of the desired instructional outcome.

Examples of Well-written Objectives

Example objectives which include – (Audience – Green; Behavior – Red; Condition – Blue; and Degree – Pink)

Cognitive (comprehension level) – “Given examples and non-examples of constructivist activities in a college classroom, the student will be able to accurately identify the constructivist examples and explain why each example is or isn’t a constructivist activity in 20 words or less.”

Cognitive (application level) – “Given a sentence written in the past or present tense, the student will be able to re-write the sentence in future tense with no errors in tense or tense contradiction (i.e., I will see her yesterday.).”

Cognitive (creation/synthesis level) – “Given two cartoon characters of the student’s choice, the student will be able to list five major personality traits of each of the two characters, combine these traits (either by melding traits together, multiplying together complimentary traits, or negating opposing traits) into a composite character, and develop a short (no more than 20 frames) storyboard for a cartoon that illustrates three to five of the major personality traits of the composite character.”

Affective – “Given the opportunity to work in a team with several people of different races, the student will demonstrate an positive increase in attitude towards non-discrimination of race, as measured by a checklist utilized/completed by non-team members.

Psychomotor – “Given a standard balance beam raised to a standard height, the student (attired in standard balance beam usage attire) will be able to walk the entire length of the balance beam (from one end to the other) steadily, without falling off, and within a six second time span.”

  • When reviewing example objectives above, we may notice a few things.
  • As you move up the “cognitive ladder,” it can be increasingly difficult to precisely specify the degree of mastery required.
  • Affective objectives are difficult for many instructors to write and assess. They deal almost exclusively with internal feelings and conditions that can be difficult to observe externally.
  • It’s important to choose the correct key verbs to express the desired behavior you want students to produce. See the pages on cognitive objectives, affective objectives, and psychomotor objectives to see examples of key words for each level.

Typical Problems Encountered When Writing Objectives

Problems in Writing Objectives


Error Type


Too vast/complex The objective is too broad in scope or is actually more than one objective. Simplify/break apart.
False/missing behavior, condition, or degree The objective does not list the correct behavior, condition, and/or degree, or they are missing. Be more specific, make sure the behavior, condition, and degree is included.
Only topics listed Describes instruction, not conditions. That is, the instructor may list the topic but not how he or she expects the students to use the information Simplify, include ONLY ABCDs.
False performance No true overt, observable performance listed. Describe what behavior you must observe.




We know that the education is a planned and purposeful activity so to make is purposeful it is very important to determine appropriate aims and objectives. They are the starting points of teaching learning process and after that planning are done on the basis of them. Well defined aims and objectives give a correct direction to the teaching and help to bring desirable learning outcomes in the learner or receiver.


  1. Guilbert J. Educational handbook for health personnel. 6th ed. (1987) revised 1998.  Geneva: World Health Organization; Page No. – 1.30 to 108.
  2. Basavanthappa B T. Nursing Education. Jaypee Brothers Publishers; 1st (2003) reprint 2004. Page No. 286 to 314
  3. Neerja, KP. Textbook of Nursing Education. Jaypee Brothers Publishers; 1st (2003) reprint 2005. Page No. -158 to165



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