Writing Instructional Goals
Before beginning to write instructional goals, it is helpful to identify common errors. The most common error, identified previously, is to focus the goal on instructor performance rather than the student outcome; a second common mistake is to have more than one learning outcome stated in the overall goal. For example:
- Understands and uses sterile technique effectively
This example has two possible outcomes. It is more desirable to have
a single outcome because some students may be able to understand the principles
of sterile technique but not be able to use it.
A third common error is to relate the overall goal to specific subject
matter. Sometimes this may be preferred, as illustrated in the following
This example speaks to performance within a specific content area. It may
be an appropriate goal for a student who is completing a clinical rotation
in the emergency room.
- The student can record customary billing procedures for
emergency room care.
In contrast, the following goal is broadened to include all types of
- The PA graduate will be able to record the care provided
for any patient encounter for customary billing systems.
Generally, when writing instructional goals, consider the following:
- Every instructional goal should represent an intended learning outcome.
- Each instructional goal should begin with a verb that is general enough to cover a domain of student performance.
- Each instructional goal should be limited to one general learning outcome.
- Instructional goals should be free of specific subject matter or content.
- Instructional goals are further defined by a set of specific, representative learning outcomes.
Narrated Powerpoint presentations on CDs and online with
Impatica are excellent learning tools for auditory learners as well
as for non-native English speakers.
Mary Barakzai, EdD
University of California-Davis PA Program