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After completing instructional goals, learner performance indicators demonstrating student mastery should be identified. Specific learning objectives provide an operational definition in behavioral terms. Instructional objectives start with an action verb that describes an observable student response. Such verbs describe types of responses and are only intended to be a sample of performance indicators that might be considered for the goal. The instructor must decide how many indicators are necessary and at what level of achievement to provide evidence that the student has learned the material. For example, instructional objectives related to an overall goal of using critical thinking in patient diagnosis might include either or both of the following objectives:
Instructional objectives include two essential components: a behavior and an object. The first component is a specific behavior or action that follows instruction and could serve as evidence that the objective has been achieved. Active verbs describe the observable behavior. The second component identifies the focus of learning content, concept, skill, or attitude.
Other qualified models for writing objectives exist. Additional, optional components to the objective format provide clarity and should be considered. These components may more clearly define elements such as the target group, conditions, defined content, performance criteria, and performance stability.
Figure 4. illustrates the essential and optional components of instructional objectives:
The following objective illustrates the essential and optional components:
Optional components include "target groups" that specify a subgroup when the objective applies differentially. This does not apply to the objectives described in this manual as they all uniformly address PA students as the target audience.
“Conditions” give information about situations in which the student will be required to demonstrate the behavior—how, when, or where:
Lastly, "performance stability" gives information about how often the student behavior must be observed to be a true indication that the behavior is a stable part of the student's achievement repertoire. This may included repeated assessments over time or evaluations from different sources:
The above objective focused on a clearly defined task with a specific knowledge base that allows for the detailed description of the instructional content and a directly measurable performance. Some areas of instructional content are more conceptual than the above practical example, but objectives can be written that clearly define the parameters of the expected student performance.
The following objective illustrates the performance indicators as applied to the conceptual knowledge of legal issues in health care:
The essential and optional components of this objective are identified below: