Writing Effective Objectives – The ABCD’s of Objective Writing

There are many ways to write effective objectives. This particular technique is very easy to remember and is quite effective.

There are 4 components of an objective that most agree need to be included. The example below is based on a psychomotor skill.

The ABCD’s of Objective Writing

A = (Audience) – Who is it that you are teaching?
Example: The learner…

B – (Behavior) – What is it that they will be able to do?
Example: The learner will be able to dribble a basketball…

C = (Condition) – What circumstances or condition does the learner have to be in in order to complete your requirement?
Example: The learner will be able to dribble a basketball with one hand and both eyes closed…

D= (Degree) – How good does it have to be done?
Example: The learner will be able to dribble a basketball with one hand and both eyes closed for 20 seconds…

Completed Objective:

“The learner will be able to dribble a basketball with one hand and both eyes closed for 20 seconds. ”

As you can see the objective is very descriptive. It tells the student exactly what they need to do in order to complete or meet the criteria. Using this method of writing objectives online will help your students focus on what they need to learn.

The Psychomotor Domain – Get Physical

The psychomotor domain encompasses the skills requiring the use and coordination of skeletal muscles, as in the physical activities of performing, manipulating, and constructing (Kemp, Morrison, Ross).

Psychomotor skills are typically more observable, easier to describe, and measure in terms of evaluation. There is no taxonomy that is accepted universally for this domain. A very popular model for the psychomotor domain was established by R.H. Dave.

  • Imitation: Observing and patterning behavior after someone else. Performance may be of low quality. Example: Copying a work of art.
  • Manipulation: Being able to perform certain actions by following instructions and practicing.
    Example: Creating work on one’s own, after taking lessons, or reading about it.
  • Precision: Refining, becoming more exact. Few errors are apparent.
    Example: Working and reworking something, so it will be “just right.”
  • Articulation: Coordinating a series of actions, achieving harmony and internal consistency.
    Example: Producing a video that involves music, drama, color, sound, etc.
  • Naturalization: Having high level performance become natural, without needing to think much about it.
    Examples: Michael Jordan playing basketball, Nancy Lopez hitting a golf ball, etc.

pscyhomotor domain

The Affective Domain – Changing Views

The Affective domain involves objectives concerning attitudes, appreciations, values, and emotions such as enjoying, conserving, and respecting (Kemp, Morrison, Ross).

Bloom identified 5 basic categories for writing objectives within the Affective domain.

  1. Receiving – Being aware of or attending to something in the environment.
  2. Responding – Showing some new behavior as a result of experience.
  3. Valuing – Showing some definite involvement or commitment.
  4. Organization – Integrating a new value into one’s general set of values, giving it some ranking among one’s general priorities.
  5. Characterization by value – acting consistently with the new value.

the affective domain

* This may be the domain that is the most difficult to write objectives for because they are more difficult to observe and evaluate.

How does the learner feel after the instruction?

  • The presentation about the effects of smoking to 15 year old smokers changed their attitude towards continuing to smoke.
  • Students are enthusiastic about learning new software.
  • The learners will have a new found respect for farmers in Illinois.
  • The student will show interest in the field of radiology after the presentation.

The Cognitive Domain – Brain Power

The Cognitive domain includes objectives that are related to information or knowledge. This is the domain which receives the most attention of all three domains. The cognitive domain includes objectives related to information or knowledge, naming, solving, predicting, and other intellectual aspects of learning. (Kemp, Morrison, Ross).

Benjamin Bloom categorized the cognitive domain into two sub-domains for writing objectives.

1) Simple Recall or Knowledge – Define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce, etc.
2) Intellectual Activities – Comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

See the illustration below.

the coginitive domain


* The challenge here is to direct learners out of the lowest cognitive level of recalling information, and into the five higher intellectual levels. This is all achieved through your objectives and activities used to achieve the objective.

Learner Competencies for taking an Online Course


Students taking online courses should undergo some kind of orientation to ensure that they know how to perform in your class. There are some things to consider:

  • All students are not computer wizzes no matter how old or young they are, so you will want to keep your instructions as clear as possible.
  • Students have different computers, Macintosh, Mac OSX, PC, Windows 7, etc. You will want to consider this if you have detailed instructions about how to do something.
  • Find ways to deliver the content without too many technological hurdles. For example, you may not want to require a student to download a program, install it, and run it, then turn in the results (unless you teach a computer class online). You may want to just make this an extra credit type of activity.
  • Student Internet connectivity. Your students hate to wait for information. Slow connections will leave your students frustrated. If you have too many pictures or too much “fluff” that is irrelevant to instruction, you may need to re-consider your instructional plan.
  • Slow computers. Many students have older computers that are very slow in processing speed. In your syllabus, you should list the minimum computer requirements that is needed to take your internet class.

Baseline Technology Skills

  • Ability to operate a computer to launch applications, knowledge of basic directory structure (folders, files), perform tasks, save, close, copy, paste and rename files.
  • Ability to use a word processor to save in RTF and MS Word formats.
  • Ability to send and receive email and email with attachments.
  • Ability to use a web browser to view and search the Internet.


Instructors may need to give a little extra push to online students initially to ease anxiety. Remember that this is a different learning format than most students are accustomed to, so it is easy to fall off track. The first couple of weeks of an internet class are usually the toughest, as students are logging in for the first time. They may experience problems with their computer, which can result in falling behind. A kind word of encouragement can do wonders for a student in an online class to get them back on track. Below are some links that can be included in the course to help students.

Instructor Competencies for Teaching Online

Issues of Technology for Instructors and Development Time of an Online Course
Instructors who have never taught online find it to be new and often times challenging for the first go around. If they choose to use their own materials (rather than publisher content which we will discuss later), they have to convert their existing materials into a way that is suitable for online learning. Converting existing materials could involve creating (HTML) web pages, scanning images, digital video, discussion boards, multimedia, and email.  What do you need to know?
Baseline Technology Skills (Required Skills)

  1. Ability to operate a computer operating system to launch applications, perform tasks, save, close, copy, paste and rename files.
  2. Ability to use a word processor to save in native format and HTML.
  3. Ability to send and receive email and email with attachments.
  4. Ability to use a web browser to view and search the Internet.
  5. Ability to navigate and effectively design, develop, and deliver instruction via an LMS.

Additional/Advanced Skills (Optional Skills)

  1. Ability to scan images for use on the web.
  2. Ability to work with digital video and/or audio.
  3. Ability to use multimedia authoring tools.
  4. Web Design skills.
  5. Keep up with latest learning technology trends to enhance the learning process for students.

Instructor Interaction
Online classes aim to simulate the traditional classroom in many aspects including communication. Although the class is online, students need that “human touch.” Students will often complain that their instructor was never there or took a week to answer an email. This can put the student back a week if the instructor is not prompt so it is good practice to check in with your class often.  Insufficient interaction with the instructor is often the biggest complaint of students who had a bad online class experience.  Staying up with emails, or simply stating in your syllabus that you will answer emails once a day, or once every 2 days at a certain time will help set your students at ease.
Time Management
Instructors often ask about the development time for an online course. This all depends on the technological competency of the person developing the course and it also depends on whether they develop their course from scratch, if the materials already exist, or they use publisher content.

Online classes are known for taking up instructor time when teaching them because answering emails and discussion boards often requires a lot of reading and typing. You should be prepared to set aside a time(s) where you will check your course email and discussion areas.
Custom Courses
Some instructors choose to create their own content. The reason for this may be because the Course Pack content was not to their liking, they choose to develop their own content, the content is already developed from their traditional course, or they simply would rather take more ownership of their course. The time it takes to develop a course from scratch is probably a considerable amount of time when compared with Course Packs, but the advantage is that the content is laid out the way you wanted it.