Tips + Tricks for Writing Objectives

Think of a time that you have had to write objectives for something.  What was it that you were writing for?  What was the experience like? 

For those of you with a teaching background, it was likely a piece of cake, but if you, like me, came into Extension from a content background the task may have caused more anxiety…

This blog post is intended to provide some tips and tricks for writing measurable objectives so that CCE Educators, when required to write objectives for programs, requests for proposals or presentations, or even activity promos can do so with greater ease and confidence.  Educators who practice these tips will reduce the amount of time taken to write objectives and will be more likely to clearly articulate desired outcomes. Yup – I snuck in an objective about writing objectives.

Tip oneWhere to start?   I typically start by asking myself two questions:

  1. What will successful implementation of an outcome look like?
  2. Are there standards that I need to be aware of in the program/proposal that I’m working on?

Thinking about question 1 helps me write something that is plain language – so important as we want others to understand our intent.  If the answer to question 2 is yes – then I research and review the document that has the standards – for example, I would use the CCE Plan of Work/Program Development Reporting Tool if it is for a local plan of work, or the actual RFP if it is for a proposal.  If you have a document that outlines the standard of what you are working towards, be sure that the objectives references or nests within whatever the standards say and that it is clear enough to the reader that there is a connection.

Tip two:  Pull out Bloom’s Taxonomy for a handy list of verbs that can help clarify exactly what you want your participants to be able to achieve.  If you haven’t used Bloom’s Taxonomy before – know that the columns align with logic model thinking…columns one and two are very typical for the participants in a short term experience.  For example, at the end of a workshop about home composting you might expect that participants will be able to identify several ways to compost in their backyard.  Columns two and three align with behavior change – so review the verbs in those columns to consider options for verbs to write reasonable, measurable objectives.  In the same example in a series about backyard composting my objective include: participants will integrate a backyard compost unit into their food waste strategy.  The real benefit to using Bloom’s Taxonomy is that objectives written this way are clear and measurable – you will have a built in start on an evaluation plan.

Tip three: If acronyms help you remember to put something into practice – you might like references (or just the acronym) SMART.  SMART goals and objectives will help you to hit on some key factors.  SMART goals and objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Depending on what you are writing objectives for – meeting all of those key elements in a SMART objectives might be necessary.  So a SMART objective for the above example might say – during the next year, public participants in home composting workshops will identify home composting practices that they intend to put into place, discuss new ideas with two other friends, neighbors, or relatives, and will demonstrate how they are putting home composting practices into place in their home gardens by using #mastergardener on social media.

I hope that these tips and tricks are helpful to you. 


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