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Instructional Systems Design - ISD
Writing Performance Objectives
Topic: 6- Performance Objectives

A performance objective is a detailed description of what students will be able to do when they complete a unit of instruction.  (p.125). Performance objectives are also sometimes called behavioral objectives or instructional objectives.

Performance objectives are derived from the skills in the instructional analysis. One or more objectives should be written for each of the skills identified in  the instructional analysis. For every unit of instruction that has a goal, there is a terminal objective (p.131). The terminal objective has the 3 components of a performance objective, but it describes the conditions for performing the goal at the end of the instruction.

For each objective we write, we need to have a specific assessment of that behavior (that must be observable!).

Important question to ask ourselves when writing objectives: (p.133)
"Could I design an item or task that indicates whether a learner can successfully do what is described in the objective?"

Components of an Objective:

  1. Performance: A description of the skill or behavior identified in the instructional analysis. (What the learner will be able to do-- both action and content or concept)
  2. Conditions: A description of the conditions that will prevail while a learner carries out the task > what the learner will be given/ what will be available to him/her (also check pp. 127-129)
    • computer to use?
    • calculator?
    • paragraph to analyze?
    • story to read?
    • content?
    • from memory?
  3. Criteria: A description of the measures, or standards that will be used to evaluate learner performance (also check pp. 130-131)
    • the tolerance limits for a response
    • range
    • qualitative judgment (what needs to be included in an answer or physical performance judged to be acceptable)
    • given time period/circumstance
      • use checklist of behavior types / rubrics: to define complex criteria for acceptable responses.

The steps in writing performance objectives: (p.132)

  • Edit goal to reflect eventual performance context.
  • Write terminal objective to reflect context of learning environment.
  • Write objectives for each step in goal analysis for which there are no substeps shown.
  • Write objectives that reflect the substeps in one major objective, or write objectives for each substep.
  • Write objectives for all subordinate skills.
  • Write objectives for entry behaviors if some students are likely not to possess them.

 Some important guidelines for writing performance objectives: (Dr. Watkins)

  • Always state objectives from the point of view of the learner (i.e., what the learner/trainee will be able to do) NOT from the point of view of the instructor (i.e., what the teacher/trainer will teach)
  • Always include at least the three components (conditions, performance, criteria) that a Mager Type objective calls for (please read on below for more information...)
  • Make sure the Performance part of your objective is observable
  • Make sure the standards (criteria) are measurable, clear and not open for interpretation
  • Do not confuse conditions and standards
  • Take conditions into consideration when determining realistic criteria  

Relevant Links:  

Example of Performance Objectives

Mission, Goals, Objectives (Bloom's Taxonomy)

Relevant Book: 

Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction by Robert F. Mager (1977)

Posted by Nada at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: 05/05/09 1:05 AM EDT

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