Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tips When Writing Behavioral Objectives

As a nurse, midwife, childbirth educator or doula, you may be asked to write behavioral objectives for a new program or when you become a speaker at a workshop, seminar or conference.  I have put together some helpful tips for writing these objectives.

Behavioral objectives, learning objectives, instructional objectives, and performance objectives are terms that refer to descriptions of observable student behavior or performance that are used to make judgments about learning. Whether you are a childbirth educator, doula, nurse, lactation educator or trainer, at some point you will be asked to write behavioral objectives.

While some feel that writing behavioral objectives is a waste of time, it is generally felt that using behavioral objectives allows the educator to actually see what will be covered during a specific time period and not to overwhelm the student. Using objectives help to clarify what details to include under what generalized topic area, plus allows for examination of the order in which topics and details will fall. Further, using behavioral objectives promotes creativity with
the educator when developing teaching strategies for use with all learner types.

The three parts of a behavioral objective are:

1.Conditions (a statement that describes the conditions under which the behavior is to be performed).

Behavioral objectives are about curriculum, not instruction. Therefore, the list of objectives may be preceded by the phrase, "At the end of this session, participants will be able to…"
2. Behavioral Verb (an action word that connotes an observable student behavior).
Behavioral verbs for use with curricula or CE (or continuing education unit) forms are typically upper level verbs and include classify, construct, define, demonstrate, describe, diagram, distinguish, estimate, evaluate, explain, identify, interpret, label, list, locate, measure, name, order, predict, reproduce, solve, translate.
See this link for Blooms Taxonomy and measurable behavioral verbs.  Click here.
3. Criteria (a statement that specifies how well the student must perform the behavior).
Behavioral objectives are measurable (note the four below), which means that the objective can be turned into a test question or evaluation item at a later date.

So, for someone who is writing a curriculum to include the topic of comfort measures for use during labor, a measurable behavioral objective might be:

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

List four comfort measures that can be used during labor.

When developing a curriculum and writing objectives, it may be useful to use a format where the objectives, outline of the content, time frame and teaching strategies can be viewed simultaneously.

Most professional documents require references written in the APA Style.  APA (American Psychological Association) is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, Purdue University, revised according to the 6th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. 

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