Goals vs. Objectives

How to spot the differences

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Goals and Objectives

A general statement of what the learning program aims to accomplish with the instructional program is the goal. Goals indicate what the program designer wants the students to learn stated in general terms (i.e., The students will learn how to write an effective, measurable IEP goal.). Goals are statements that provide a structure for establishing the educational objectives of the learning program. Goals should reflect the desired learning outcome of the program and when appropriate the mission statement of the organization. Learning program may normally have more than one specific goal; each goal in turn, may generate many specific learning objectives.

Goals and objectives are designed to communicate the purpose of and desired outcomes of a learning program. Objectives derive from goals and are linked to assessment. Objectives are the steps or progression towards attaining a program’s goal. Objectives include detailed descriptions of the behaviors that trainers want their audience to perform at the end of the training. Along with condition and criteria deemed appropriate. “Objectives are specific and concise statements that indicates whom will make what changes, by how much, where and when,” (Assessment, 2005). Learning outcomes may include a business’s values, professional conduct and attitudes an origination desires in their employees, or specific skills the learner needs.

Trainers group students into three sub-categories: cognitive, affective and behavioral. Therefore, educators have developed three distinct types of learning objectives to reflect desired learning program outcomes. Cognitive objectives state what the trainer wants their student to know, affective objective guide programs that teach the audience what to think, or care about, and behavioral objectives indicate what the designer wants the students to be able to do. Objectives may be developed to indicate different learning, knowledge, or skill levels. Mastery objectives break the training into skills that require mastery before moving on to the next skill. Developmental objectives reflect the needs of audiences with varying backgrounds and needs.

Objectives Support Goals

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Popular Trend in Objective Writing

The ABCD Model for writing objectives is the leading model utilized for educational training programs. The ABCD Model is based on a four- step process that identifies the audience, behavior, condition, and degree of mastery. A represents the learners or audience. B stands for the behaviors, or what the audience will master at the end of the instruction. Behavior writing often utilizes observable verbs inspired or taken directly from Bloom’s Taxonomy. Conditions or C indicate the resources or materials the audience will need to complete the objective. D signifies the acceptable level of mastery.

A-B-C-D Examples

  • After training the learners will develop 9-10 outreach activities monthly to reach the targeted audience.

  • The learners will be able to score a 90% or higher on the assessment after training.

  • The learner will apply budgeting principles to evaluate their current financial statuses.


Assessment. (2005). Assessment primer: goals, objectives and outcomes. Retrieved from


Johnson, A. D., & Good, D. W. (2011). Goals and objectives of successful adult degree-\

completion students. Research in Higher Education Journal, 12. 1-7. Retrieved from http://search.prpquest.com/docview/889136344?accountid=

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