This short, one-page, paper will briefly examine the issue of setting behavioural objectives in lessons for educational professionals. Using four separate sources, the question will be considered from the point of view of what setting behavioral objectives can do for achieving positive learning outcomes in a classroom setting.
It is a truism to state that educational objectives have defined much planning and preparation of professionals in the decades since the Second World War, with much teaching practise focused on meeting specific curricular requirements. In certain environments though, especially in schools and institutions where alienation and disengagement from education is a problem, such as the deprived inner city areas of many western cities, it is fair to say that alternative approaches can sometimes bear fruit. This short paper will examine the statement given in the title, assessing its truth for professional educators.
The first issue to consider is the current effectiveness of setting educational objectives in classroom situations. Educational objectives are used as a measurable way of demonstrating progress from learners. What they often do not take into account though is the readiness and willingness of the class participants to learn. Many students can provide challenges to learning which can often be managed by incorporating behavioral rather than educational objectives into lessons. Certainly, including instructional objectives into lessons with low ability students has been shown to have positive results in the past (Guat,1987, retrieved online). This would suggest that some use of behavioral instruction might also be useful in complementing more specifically educational objectives. As Elliot W. Eisner states: “If educational objectives were really useful tools, teachers, I submit, would use them. If they do not, perhaps it is not because there is something wrong with the teachers, but because there might be something wrong with the theory.” (Curriculum Studies Reader, page 345)
When considering the needs of students with emotional and behavioral difficulties, then it is sometimes necessary to set fundamentals which can be used to feed later academic and educational progress. Some students may not know that it is appropriate to sit quietly during a lesson, for example. By making sitting quietly an objective of the lesson, the student can reinforce his or her understanding of the issue, and also be rewarded for behaving in the correct way. This helps to raise self-esteem, and is a measurable sign of progress, which can then be used to drive real educational attainment. “Teachers use behavioral objectives to guide and improve classroom instruction for groups of students, manage classroom social behaviors, and support individual students in need of more intensive social and academic instruction and support (Alberto & Trout-man, 1999; Maag, 2004).” (Freeman, retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/behavioral-objectives/)
This viewpoint is further developed by E. O. Omosewo, in his study on the impact of setting behavioral objectives on the learning of physics students. He states: “Physics, which is a subject which is tagged as being difficult, can be made ‘easy’ if teachers make use of behavioral objectives when teaching.” (Omosewo, p. 95). It would seem that identifying appropriate behaviors and setting them out in clear and specific terms, can produce meaningful results in terms of improved pupil performance. It is important to always be clear and focused when setting such objectives though.
Setting behavioural objectives would seem, therefore, to offer more possibilities than problems to the modern education professional. Certainly, adopting them and using them in practical, classroom situations, can bring positive results, and is something which many professionals might incorporate into their practise.
Elliot W. Eisener, Educational Objectives: Help or Hindrance?, taken from David J. Finders and Stephen J.Thornton, The Curriculum Studies Reader pages 337 – 348)
Rachel Freeman Behavioral Objectives , Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/behavioral-objectives/, 03/15/2013
Teo Boon Guat, The effectiveness of using instructional objectives with less able secondary school pupils, Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 1987, retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet3/teo.html, 03/15/2013
- O. Omesewo, The impact of the use of behavioral objectives on students’ achievement in Physics, retrieved from http://www.unilorin.edu.ng/publications/omosewo/Innovative%20Approaches%20to%20Edu%20&%20Human%20Development%20Vol.pdf, 03/15/2013