William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 1, July, 2009

Goals and Objectives

Filed under: Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 09:26

I’ve been working on a syllabus for next semester’s class. This thing is growing like Topsy. For one thing, the syllabus is viewed by some students not as a road-map, and a guide but rather a contract between the teacher and the student. One has to be very explicit in laying out the course expectations. This is kind of difficult, akin to putting instructions for playing checkers in writing. Checkers is a simple game, but when you have to cover all contingencies, things get complex quickly.

One problem with explicit instructions, is that it is difficult to add or change emphasis and explore things the students find interesting. I had a physiology class, once, with a bunch of people who were interested in reproduction. I originally wasn’t going to cover that material, but I did. Which lead to complaints from the people who weren’t interested in it that it was too extensively covered, and you didn’t say you could do that. So, one adds a sentence that the instructor may add alternate material if there is class interest. Gee. An educator responding to student interest. You would not think you’d have to warn people about that. Seems to me to be the point of education.

I’ve been working on the goals and objectives on this physiology class. Part of them were inherited from a colleague, and this individual and I have different styles on writing goals and objectives. I try to make my objectives both clear and measureable. I am of the opinion that if it isn’t measureable, it’s not an objective. It makes me crazy when objectives are written like this:

“The student will understand the relationship of genetics to human health”

Cool. That’s a great goal, but it’s way to abstract to be an objective. One point of objectives is to have a measurable outcome. That way both the instructor and the student know when the student has got there. To continue the map analogy, a goal is “get out of town for dinner” and an objective is “go to Pittsburgh and eat dinner at the New Dumpling House.” This keeps you from going to Wooster and eating at the Olde Jaol Tavern.  Same goal, different objective.

I also want to state the objectives without using education jargon. Part of jargon is to have a common shorthand language, to demonstrate to other practitioners that one is amongst the cognoscenti. This gives credence to Shaw’s charge that all professions are a conspiracy against the laity. But if you’re trying to communicate with students instead of educators, clairity is important. This is a lot harder than it first appears, as jargon is helpful also by simplifying communication on the foundation of a shared knowledge base. It makes for wordiness.

I have gotten the objectives fashioned though.

1.         Using clinical case histories, the student will demonstrate the ability to integrate principles and concepts from the physical sciences as they apply to the regulation of the internal environment of the human body.
2.         Use cellular and molecular biology concepts and technique to analyze selected physiologic mechanisms at the cellular level for relevance in maintaining a person’s health.
3.         Evaluate physiologic mechanisms with an eye toward manipulating them by pharmacologic and other therapeutic modalities.
4.         Demonstrate the ability to analyze physical diagnosis and laboratory findings in view of physiologic processes..
5.         Develop skills in pattern recognition and apply them to the human form and its function
6.         Use scholarly resources to acquire knowledge of physiology and pathophysiology and apply it to clinical cases
7.         In a simulacrum of work rounds, present the material derived from the scholarly resources in a concise and precise fashion.



  1. The last time I was required to write a sillybus for an adult program, I found it still in use five years later and two programs removed. That instructor stuck to it no more than I did (g).

    Comment by Carteach0 — Thursday, 2, July, 2009 @ 06:06 | Reply

  2. I’d add one more my favorite Anthro prof did:

    “Grandmothers have a particularly high mortality rate during exam time. Please don’t tell your Grandmother you have a test, the poor old woman has enough to worry about anyway.”

    Comment by EAST — Friday, 3, July, 2009 @ 07:17 | Reply

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