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Learning Goals

"One of the signal accomplishments of contemporary doctrine on the design of instruction, whether considered as model or theory (Reigeluth, 1983), is the idea that design begins with the identification of the goals of learning. Goals are sometimes conceived as objectives reflecting human performance, and sometimes as learning outcomes implying the acquired capabilities for those performances. In either sense, the goals which are projected to result from learning are presumed to be the starting point of the process of instructional design" (Gagné & Merrill, 1990). Integrative goals for instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 38, 23-30.

Goal analysis

“The function of goal analysis is to define the indefinable, to tangibilitate the intangible—to help you to say what you mean by your important but abstract goals . . .with this procedure, it is possible to describe the essential elements of abstract states—to identify the main performances that constitute the meaning of the goal” (Mager, 1997, p. 11).

“statements of purpose or intention, what learners should be able to do at the conclusion of instruction” (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 77).

"A goal ought to state the exact aim, purpose, or end to any course of action" (Ledford & Sleeman, 2000, p. 36).

Goals can be written broadly, but "the use of operant terms expedites the effect of the goal statement" (Ledford & Sleeman, 2000, p. 36).

"Goals . . . are reached through the achievement of objectives"  (Ledford & Sleeman, 2000, p. 36).

Learning objectives.

Learning objectives are "subparts of goals" (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 77). Learning objectives are similar to learning goals, but learning objectives MUST be written using operant terminology, specifying what the learner must be able to do after completion of the instruction.

Learning objectives should be "precise and concrete descriptions of learning outcomes" (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 97).

Mager points out that goals (and this would apply to objectives) there can be words which look like abstrations, but instead are actually performances. Words like "identify," "discriminate," and "solve" describe performances which occur internally, i.e. covertly. Visible performances occur overtly, that is to say they are performances that can be observed.