Monday, October 26, 2015

The GPS in Education: Meaningful Measurable Objectives

Goals are an important part of life.   Without them, we often are just treading water.  As Earl Nightingale said, "People with goals succeed because they know where they're going."  There are many different examples in life where we can point to the importance of goals: athletics, behavior of children, academic success, business success and so on.  

Often during pre-conferences and observations, a discussion centering around the focus for student learning takes place.  In this discussion, we often recognize the importance of measurable objectives in daily lessons.  As educators, we need to establish goals for our students.  Creating goals gives our classes more structure and are easier for students to comprehend because they know what is expected.  Think of it as a GPS; we type in our destination, receive directions and we eventually end up where we need to go.  Our classrooms should look the same way.

There are 4 areas of focus for creating measurable objectives:

1. What is your goal for day, the week, the unit?
As stated above, all students need goals so they can be successful.  What do you want students to learn when they are in your class?  Establish a goal: it can simple (five parts of the design process or steps to create a brochure).  Each day there should be a goal.  It may be an extension of a previous lesson, but there should be a goal nonetheless.

2. What knowledge do you want the students to gain?
This is accomplished by creating learning targets or "I can…" statements that identify the learning level where students should end.  A good resource for determining the level of knowledge for students is Bloom's Taxonomy.  Some lessons or projects require different levels of learning for students ("Identify the five parts of the design process" compared to "Demonstrate the steps necessary to create a brochure").

3. Choose your words carefully
You have to know exactly what you need in #2 above in order to complete #3 correctly.  The learning level of students will depend on the correct verbiage used for the behavior at hand.  A great tool to use is an objective builder such as the one featured on this site.  It allows you to choose the correct term so your students know exactly what they need to do.

4. Make sure to add your destination
Students need to know how they are to demonstrate they have reached the end goal.  Its much like our GPS example above, if we don't put in the destination, the GPS won't guess where we are going for us.     Let students know if they need to illustrate they know what they are doing in an assessment, project, paper, lab or whatever the educator is looking for to show mastery.  Referring to one of the examples above, asking a student to demonstrate the necessary steps to create a brochure doesn't tell the student how they need to do this to show mastery.  Adding how you want the student to "Demonstrate the necessary steps to create a brochure by creating a brochure in MS Office" does.

Measurable objectives are a basic part of our daily lives.  We need them in education so our students have a path.  A goal without a plan is just a dream.  Help our students get from Point A to Point B and be successful by taking the time to create meaningful measurable objectives that give students and parents clarity.