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 education today.

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 department effectiveness.

This page and this concept are under constant development, evolution, and revision. We welcome all inputs and suggestions for improvement. 



        QTII -- Establishing, Teaching, and Certifying Standards for Effective Teaching