An Introduction To
Defining the WHAT: Objectives
for Effective Teaching
(Also called Objective-Based Planning,
Teaching, and Assessment)
This topic, also called Objective-Based PTA,
or sometimes OBPTA, is the first and most important focus of QTII.
The Objective-Based PTA model for a course
consists of four principal points:
1. Develop a full set of
hierarchical objectives. A "full set" consists of a course
objective, hierarchical learning objectives, behavioral objectives for each
terminal learning objective, criterion objectives, and lesson objectives.
Objectives must fit topically into the objective hierarchy, and each must be
written to an appropriate level of learning.
2. Develop effective test bank
items according to the criterion objectives. Once the criterion objectives
are written correctly, then writing test items becomes much easier. There are,
however, many test construction traps to avoid. These are addressed in the
Test Construction seminar.
3. Teach and assess the course
according to the lesson objectives. With a proper "chain of
objectives" to include the topical hierarchy, appropriate levels of
learning, and continuity of objectives from the planning phase through the
teaching phase and the assessment phase, you can be certain you are teaching
and testing for intended student outcomes.
4. Perform post-course followups.
A post-course followup will provide valid and insightful feedback on the
appropriateness of the objectives and effectiveness of teaching.
Each of these points is taught, explained, and
described in detail in the QTII seminar Defining
the WHAT: Objectives for Effective Teaching.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to work up a set of objectives and
selected test items for their own courses.
WHY USE OBJECTIVE-BASED Planning,
Teaching, and Assessment? Use
of the OBPTA model will provide a tested, sound, structured methodology for
overcoming a great number of the issues identified as current problems in
secondary and higher
1. Clear Curriculum Definition.
With clearly defined competencies, which is what you have with a properly
written hierarchy of objectives, it will become an easy next step to reduce or
eliminate curriculum redundancies, to clearly define prerequisites, to
describe exactly what competencies each course contains, and to compile a
coherent and contiguous course of study.
2. Clearly Described Expected
Student Outcomes. Using the chain-of-objectives approach for each
course, to include the hierarchy of objectives as stated above, instructors
can provide each student with a superbly clear picture of what topics they are
to learn, and to what level of learning.
3. Assured Assessments Validity.
Using the chain-of-objectives approach in Objective-Based PTA, all test items
are assured to be valid, including both subject and level of learning. This
assured validity greatly clarifies all other test item effectiveness measures,
cascading to a multitude of other improvements, such as discrimination. The
discrimination index of a test item measures how effectively a particular test
item discriminates between students who have mastered the material and those
who haven't. This cascades to a more effective measure of student learning,
which reflects on teaching effectiveness.
4. Easing of Teacher
Workloads. Using the Objective-Based PTA approach, a faculty member,
department, or school can begin to compile an effective bank of objectives and
of test items, each of which can be simply verified for re-use.
5. Better Faculty Evaluations.
With a more structured approach to course development, teaching, and testing,
faculty performance is more quantifiable. Additionally, with increased
validity and reliability of student assessments, their performance on tests
will be a more accurate reflection of student learning and teaching
effectiveness. Finally, the publishing of the hierarchy of objectives for each
course will provide each student with a preview of exactly what they will be
expected to learn in a particular course, so they will therefore be better
judges of whether they learned what they were expected to learn.
6. More Accurate School/Department
Evaluations. Almost all colleges, universities, and departments base their
self assessments on student performance -- i.e., grades. With the full-scale
implementation of Objective-Based PTA, the student grades will not only be a
more accurate reflection of their educational accomplishments, they will also
indicate learning of the proper subjects to the proper levels of learning,
thereby making these grades a much more effective indication of school or
This page and this concept are under constant
development, evolution, and revision. We welcome all inputs and suggestions for