Creating Program Goals and Objectives
As a vocational-technical instructor, you are likely to be involved in identifying and formulating vocational program goals and objectives. You may be doing this individually or as a member of a committee.
Program goals may be described as statements of “where you want to go”. Program objectives are statements of “how you are going to get there.” Before you can describe where you want to go, it is important to determine where you are and what needs you are trying to satisfy. Hence, the process of developing goals and objectives requires a database from which relevant goals and achievable objectives can be developed.
Goal and objective statements are usually periodically revised as local student and human resource needs change. They also are frequently updated in preparation for (1) visits by state department of education program review teams and (2) program reviews conducted by regional accrediting associations.
The process of developing goals and objectives is important to a sound vocational program for purposes of clarification, communication, evaluation, and articulation.
- Clarification—the process tends to make plain what is to be accomplished through the vocational program by clearly stating the outcomes it is expected to achieve.
- Communication—your involvement in identifying your school’s vocational purposes will enable you to communicate these goals and objectives to students, administrators, advisory committee members, and others in the community.
- Evaluation—Clear statements of vocational program goals and objectives are essential to program evaluation.
- Articulation—Identifying and developing overall vocational-technical program goals for the school or college in which you are working enables you to see how your particular vocational service area and occupational program fit into the total educational program.
Levels of Goals and Objectives to Be Developed
- Total educational program goals—these are institutional level statements that pertain to the total educational system.
- Total vocational-technical program goals—these are sub-institutional level statements that pertain especially to the total vocational-technical program of the school or college.
- Total vocational service area or occupational specialty goals—these are goals that address the specific purposes of the particular vocational service or occupational specialty.
Whether you are developing goals for a total vocational-technical program, a service area, or a specific program within a service area, such goals often deal with a number of topics that are of continuing concern to vocational educators. Some of these concerns are as follows:
- Adding a new program or option within a program
- Revising the curriculum to reflect current job skills needed
- Modifying the program to better serve students with special/exceptional need
- Decreasing the number of dropouts in the program
- Organizing or reorganizing an advisory committee
- Conducting a school-community relations plan
- Increasing student participation in vocational student organizations
- Evaluating a program
Types of Goals and Objectives
These include broad statements of intent describing what is to be achieved in:
- Total school program,
- Total vocational-technical program
- Vocational service area, or
- Occupational program within a service area
As with program goals, program objectives are also developed at various levels. Program objectives may be written for the total educational program, the total vocational-technical program, a service area, or an occupational program within a service area.
Program objectives are usually short statements of intent that relate back to the achievement of one of the program goal statements. They usually describe the means to be used in achieving the various goals.
Program objectives should not be confused with instructional objectives. Program objectives focus on the means that will be used by teachers and administrators to accomplish the various program goals established. Instructional objectives indicate what the student will be expected to learn or achieve. Students’ performance objectives should also present a clear statement of instructional intent.
Example of an Objective;
To prepare students for entry-level competency in the field of Medical Assistance by exposing them to the critical elements of the position.
These include statements describing the means by which the program goals are to be accomplished, focusing on teacher (or administrator) responsibilities as they involve or affect students.
By the completion of this program the students will have achieved through training, a satisfactory or above level of technical competence in the field of Medical Assistance to pass the MA certification examination.
These include course, unit, lesson, and learning package objectives. Such objectives describe what the student is expected to know, accomplish, or be able to do after completing a course, unit, lesson, or learning package. Unit, lesson, and learning package objectives specify
- The task that is to be performed,
- The conditions under which it is to occur, and
- The acceptable standards of performance.
Given a case situation describing the job requirements and opportunities for a position as a Medical Assistant, [the student will] develop a formal letter of application that meets all the criteria as given in the unit checklist.
There are a number of national and local factors that influence vocational program goals and objectives. Collecting information about these factors is essential if the goals and objectives you develop are to be relevant to students, to the community, and to the nation. These factors include the following:
- Federal vocational legislation
- State educational legislation
- State plan for vocational education
- Student needs and interests surveys
- Community surveys
- Human resource data
- Evaluative data
There are also a number of sources you should tap to (1) help you locate and use the above information and (2) contribute ideals, recommendations, and further data as you develop program goals and objectives. These include the following:
- Advisory committee
- Business, professional, and industrial community
- State and area supervisors and administrators
- Faculty and guidance staff
Developing Program Objectives from Program Goals
A program goal is a general statement describing a broad purpose or intent. Sometimes goals are stated briefly; sometimes they are not—but one thing all program goals have in common is their lack of real specificity. Note the following examples:
- Develop student leadership skills.
- Develop in students a positive attitude toward work.
- Provide students with skills necessary to enter post-secondary programs.
- Provide students with marketable skills in data processing.
Stepping Stones of Program Objectives
Step one—Write down the program goal, using whatever words best describes your intentions.
Step two—Write down the performances or actions that must be accomplished to achieve the goal.
Step three—Write down the criteria that would cause you to agree that the performance for the objective has been achieved.
Step four—Sort (evaluate) the criterion items you have listed in the previous step.
Step five—Add conditions to the performances and criteria to form specific program objectives.
Step six—The final step is to evaluate the program objectives you have developed—reviewing the condition, criterion, and performance statements for each objective in terms of whether they are clear, complete, and realistic.
Food for Thought
Does your school or institution of higher learning have clear, thought out goals and objectives?
© 2013 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS