Writing Objectives: The ABCDs of Clear, Concise, and Measurable Actions

Woman typing at her desktop, writing objectives for learning

One of the most conceptually difficult, yet extremely essential pedagogical skills is that of writing good lesson objectives. New, experienced, and veteran classroom and homeschool educators alike often experience difficulties developing clear, concise, and measurable objectives. However, without the presence of such objectives, the purpose of the lesson can quickly become unclear to both students and teachers.

Consequently, the skill of identifying and writing objectives that are clear, concise, and measurable is crucial to the success of any lesson or unit of study. So, what does it look like in homeschooling?

As homeschool educators, we need to continually focus on developing good objectives (i.e., the purpose of our lesson). By doing so, we will not only create clarity around the goal of the lesson, but we will also gain clarity about how to assess whether or not our son or daughter met the objective. God, too, focuses on objectives and assessment. The Bible is full of prominent characters that utilize personal and divine objectives. One such example is John the Baptist.

Lessons in Writing Objectives: John the Baptist

John the Baptist was given an essential role to play within God the Father’s plan for God the Son (Luke 1). However, John also appeared to be aware of clear, measurable objectives when it came to God the Son. That is why in Matthew 11:2-5 John sends his two disciples to evaluate Jesus’ Messianic claims. Jesus shares the following words with them, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor.”

This informal assessment was John’s way of confirming if Jesus was indeed meeting the objectives that had been prophesied about the true Messiah who was to come.  Jesus, knowing this, offered a reply that He knew would meet John’s expectations — given the Hebrew prophecies — of what the true Messiah’s ministry would look like.

Having clear, concise, and measurable objectives, therefore, helped John and the disciples accept Jesus as the One for whom Israel had been waiting. Similarly, having well-constructed objectives also helps us as home educators decipher if the work our children are performing is indeed measuring up to our predetermined expectations.

So, how does one write clear, concise, and measurable objectives for homeschooling curriculum?

Writing Objectives, as easy as ABCD

One approach that we take in the School of Education at Biola University is the use of the ABCD’s of Writing Objectives: Actors, Behavior, Condition, and Degree of Measurement.

Actors refers to the individuals who will be doing the learning. The behavior is the skill that the actors will have to perform (e.g., identifying, analyzing, comparing). The condition is the environment in which the behavior will take place. For example, will the actors be doing the work using computers or papers?  Will they be offered a graphic organizer or not? Will they be working individually or with a sibling or friend? And, the degree of measurement is the standard that the actors will have to achieve to prove they have mastered the behavior.

For example, if I had to verbalize, using the ABCD’s of writing objectives, the type of objective God may had had for Paul’s ministry, I would say:

Given a number of regions populated by Gentiles (the condition), Paul (the actor) will preach Christ’s redemptive message (the behavior) to 100% of the individuals who desire to hear it (degree of measurement).

Thus, by comparing such an objective to Paul’s actual actions, one is able to determine and measure if Paul successfully achieved the work God had predetermined for him – and I would have to say he was quite successful at it.

Reflect in Prayer

As you reflect on your own teaching practice, prayerfully consider:

  1. Lord, am I carefully focused on teaching to clear objectives in each of my lessons with my children?
  2. Jesus, do I use progress monitoring during the lesson to determine if my children are tracking with the content or getting lost?
  3. Lord, do I assess whether my children have mastered the objective of the lesson and reteach as necessary?
  4. Abba, do I regularly and prayerfully reflect on my teaching practice to ensure that I am intentional and systematic about teaching and assessing lesson and unit objectives?

Lord Jesus, help me to be disciplined as I teach to clear and focused objectives, as well as to be open to unexpected learning as we explore new territory. Lord, help me to delight in the learning process and to be attentive to Your guidance. Help me to assess and reflect well in partnership with You and bring joy to the learning process. Help my work as a home educator align with Your will as we work in partnership to equip my children to become clear thinkers and dynamic Christ followers. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Luciano Cid, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Education, Biola University

P.S. Was learning about writing objectives helpful? For more helpful content, download BYA’s free resource, The Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Homeschooling Your Student Through High School.

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