"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.
“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 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.
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.