Designing Your Objectives – Part One

One way to design a better library, or at least the services the library provides, is to start with clear, well-thought out and well-written objectives. I think we tend to overlook the value of developing objectives at the start of our projects. Perhaps we are often in too much of a hurry to try something new or to roll out a new service to take the time to thoughtfully design the objectives. Certainly, without objectives determing what is to be assessed or evaluated will be a more difficult task. How can you evaluate a program or service if you are unable to assess if the original objectives were acheived?

My own familiarity with the design of objectives comes out of instructional design, and the ADDIE process. We will discuss ADDIE (and a more librarian-focused version called BLAAM) at another time. We may tend to associate objectives with goals, as in the goals and objectives usually identified in a strategic plan. Objectives for designing services or instructional products are not all that different. They all give us something more concrete to assess. For example, for an instructional product the objective should describe a specific outcome that the learner will be able to accomplish as a result of engaging in the learning process.

There is no exact science to objective writing but a frequently recommended technique is the A-B-C-D method in which four components of any objective are developed. A is for the audience; for who is the instruction intended. B is for behavior; what behavior should the learner have at the end of the instruction. C is for condition; under what condition must the learner perform the skill. D is for degree; this establishes the standard for determining when the learner has achieved the objective.

In a forthcoming post I’ll continue this discussion on designing objectives. We’ll take a further look at how the A-B-C-D method would work using this example:

The students will complete an exercise in which they translate research topics into research questions. This will be completed as an assignment for review in class. Students should successfully convert 8 of 10 topic statement into acceptable research questions.

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