Developing Program Objectives from Program Goals
A program goal is a general statement describing a broad purpose or intent. Sometimes goals are stated briefly; sometimes is they are not — but one thing all program goals have in common is their lack of real specificity. Note the following examples:
- Develop student leadership skills
- Develop in students a positive attitude towards work
- Provide students with skills necessary to enter post-secondary program
- Provide students with marketable skills and data processing
The above statements Express very clear purposes, but hey do not indicate the criteria one could use to recognize when the goals have been achieved or the conditions under which the attitudes or skills are to be developed. Has the second goal above been met when students apply for a job in that field or when they receive their first pay increment on schedule? Is this attitude to be developed early in the program or by its completion? Program goal statements indicate what areas, attitudes, skills and so on, are considered important, but not how the goals will be implemented in a particular setting.
Specific program objectives are based on program goals but are much more descriptive in concrete. They specify activities that are directly visible, aw, the indicate the criteria to be used to recognize when the objectives have been achieved and are less helpful in program evaluation.
Program objectives make it easier for you to assess where you are, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there. As indicated in example one if you were a cosmetology teacher and one of the goals of your program was to prepare students for entry-level competence in cosmetology, one of your program objectives might state: By the completion of the program, provide students with technical competence in the field of Cosmetology such that they are able to pass the state licensing examination.
Developing program objectives
One of the successful processes for developing specific program objectives is a six step procedure called goal analysis. This is a modification of a 5-step your described by Mager. The function of goal analysis is to describe the essential elements of the general goals in order to identify specific objectives. It is a procedure for describing what a goal really means. By developing criteria for each performance and identifying conditions relating to the performance, the “fuzziness” disappears, and it is possible to ascertain the degree to which the goal has been achieved.
Remember, even though you may be working alone and doing the actual writing of program goals and objectives, they must be based on national trends and identified local needs in your community. Good program goals are not created in a vacuum, information must be sought from a variety of sources, including business, industry, committees, contacts; advisory committees; universities and state department personnel; and administrators. Equally important are the needs, and desires of the students.
Step 1. Write down the program goal, using whatever words best describe your intentions. Example: Develop student leadership skills.
Step 2. Write down the performances or actions that must be accomplished to achieve the goal. Performances described the activities to be engaged in to achieve the goal, and they contain an action word or verb. Usually there are several performances or objectives for each goal.
For example, the following performances or activities might be undertaken to achieve the previous goal:
- Increase student participation in the vocational student organization.
- Conduct local leadership development contests for the vocational student organization members.
- Participate in district, regional, and statewide vocational student organization contests.
Step 3. Write down the criteria that would cause you to agree that the performance for the objective has been achieved. Don't attempt to write complete objectives at this stage; use only words and phrases. It may help if you try to answer the question, what will I accept as evidence that this objective has been achieved?
For example, if your objective is to increase student participation in the vocational student organization, what will you accept as evidence? Increased membership? A chapter that accomplishes more activities? Increase student participation in vocational contests? Write down everything you can think of at this point, without concern for duplication, level of specificity, or editing. First drafts are forgetting things down, hot for perfection.
Step 4. Sort (evaluate) the criterion items you have listed in the previous step. Once you have identified a performance necessary to achieve a goal and have drafted a list of tentative criteria you think could be used to judge whether the performance has been accomplished, you should carefully review these criteria and eliminate those that do the following:
- Simply duplicate the performance statement.
- Are so general that they are actually goal statements.
- Are statements of procedures for accomplishing the performance, not criteria for judging whether the performance has been accomplished.
- Are inconsistent with the performance you identified.
You should keep only those criteria that are appropriate for the performance. For example, if to increase student participation in the vocational student organization is one of the performances that you have determined should be accomplished to achieve the goal of developing student leadership skills, you might, on a first try, have come up with the following criteria for judging whether participation has, in fact, been increased:
1. Student enrollment in the vocational student organization has increased by 10%.
2. Potential members have been identified and contacted.
3. Member participation in vocational student organization contests has increased.
4. A positive attitude in students towards leadership activities has been developed.
5. Members have been motivated to participate in the vocational student organization.
6. Member participation on vocational student organization committees has been expanded.
7. Vocational student organization public relations efforts have paid off in terms of greater support by the business community.
In carefully examining these tentative criteria, you would no doubt recognize that only three are really appropriate criteria for judging whether student participation in the organization has increased - the first, third, and sixth.
The second statement involves a step you might take in your attempt to increase student participation, but it is not a measure of how well you succeeded.
The forth statement is really a general overall goal, much like the goal you are tempting to achieve through increased participation in the vocational student organization.
The fifth statement nearly duplicates the performance statement and gives no indication of how one would know when attempts to motivate members had been successful.
The seven definitely gives a criterion (greater support from business) for judging the success of an action (public relation efforts), but not the action under consideration (increasing student participation).
The first, third, and sixth statements, on the other hand, give concrete, measurable ways of determining whether more students are participating in the organization. In the first, overall enrollment has increased (presumably, the 10 percent figure was selected based on meaningful data). In the 3rd and 6th, involvement in contest and on committees has increased.
Step 5. Add conditions to the performances and criteria to form specific program objectives. A complete program objectives contains the performance to be accomplished, the criterion for judging whether it has been accomplished, and the conditions or circumstances under which it will be accomplished. The condition statement often describes when the activity will be done. For example:
During the next school year, increase student participation in the vocational student organization by 10%.
You have no doubt recognized that well written performance objectives are like student performance objectives in that they contain performance, criterion, and condition statements. There are differences between the two, however. Student performance objectives are student oriented and deal primarily with the relatively specific student tasks. Program objectives are teacher oriented and broader in scope, dealing with the outcomes of the program and the activities teachers will be responsible for (although administrators and others may be involved). In addition, you may have realized that once you have developed some program objectives using this step-by-step process, you will probably find yourself integrating or combining some or all of the first five steps. For example, you will probably be able to generate appropriate criteria in a single step (combining steps 3 and 4) once you have gained some experience in recognizing such criteria.
Step 6. The final step is to evaluate the program of objectives you have developed - reviewing the condition, criterion, and performance statements for each objective in terms of whether they are clear, complete, and realistic. For example, if you wish to achieve increase student participation in the vocational student organization, do your criteria define "increased participation" clearly and completely? Are you interested only in increased enrollment or in additional kinds of participation as well, if the latter, do your criteria specify this clearly?
Then, to review all the program objectives you have written in terms of whether their accomplishment will, in fact, mean that the particular program goal they are based on will be achieved. If, for example, your goal is to develop student leadership skills and all your program objectives relate to increasing participation in the vocational student organization, will you honestly be able to say that the achievement of these objectives will be enough to accomplish such a goal?
On reviewing these particular objectives, you might want to add some objectives relating to involving students in the instructional process and increasing their responsibility for their own learning and for the learning of others — objectives that provide opportunities for students to experience and demonstrate leadership skills. That is you would probably recognize that the scope of your original objectives was too narrow to adequately cover your program goal.
Overall concerns. Is there are some cautions you should observe in developing specific program objectives, weather for the total Vocational Technical program, service area, program within a service area, as follows:
Keep the objectives at a realistic, achievable level. For example, an objective stating that all students in your program will be employed in the occupation immediately upon graduation is probably not realistic.
Keep the total number of goals and objectives realistic. This may involve choosing the most important goals and setting priorities for their achievement.
Use specific numbers (e.g., 50 % increase in enrollment) in your objectives only when there is a sound rationale for their use. Developing specific program objectives allows you to clearly describe how your program goals are to be accomplished. They are “blueprints” for action that can help you implement and achieve the overall goals you and others consider essential to a sound vocational-technical program. Sample 4 contains some sample goals and some actions to be taken to achieve those goals. Sample 5 lists program objectives designed to achieve one of those goals. If you were writing vocational program goals and objectives, you might develop similar charts to Aid you in “blueprinting" your plans.
Examples of performance objectives
1. Given 20 healthy, rooted cuttings, transplant them to a bench or pot with a 90% survival rate.
2. Using an AC welder and 3/10 inch diameter E7014 electrode, strike an arc five out of seven times within 1/4 inch of a marked spot on a 1/4 inch milled steel plate. The student will use the hand down position of welding.
3. The student will check tire inflation. The student will use a tire gauge and manual of correct tire inflation according to size and load. The student readings will be within 1 lb of the instructors recommendation.
4. List the advantages and disadvantages of the following types of fences: a. Barbed wire b. Electric wire c. Woven wire d. Board fence Pipe or metal fence
5. Given a list of 10 occupations related to agricultural chemicals, present the following information for each occupation:
a. Level of education required
b. Job opportunities in the county; in the state
c. Type of work required
6. Given a bared copper wire, whith a Western Union splice that will be equal in quality to a sample provided by the instructor.
7. Given a set of instructions regarding a mowing assignment on a golf course, start, adjust, and operate a three-gang mowing unit for at least a three-hour peroid, without direct supervision.