Writing Behavioral Objectives

Blupapers Guide to Behavioral Objectives

Each continuing educational activity submitted to the Mississippi Nurses Foundation for approval, must include learner objectives written in behavioral terms defining specific learning outcomes the participant is expected to accomplish at the completion of the learning activity. These objectives provide a means of self-evaluation throughout the learning process. Well written objectives also provide a mechanism for a measurable and observable evaluation of learning. The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, (Bloom 1956, and Krathwoh, 1964) is a valuable resource in identifying and defining instructional objectives. The taxonomy provides a classification of educational objectives and is useful in curriculum development, teaching and testing, and consists of general and specific categories that include all types of outcomes. Preparing Instructional Objectives, (Mager, 1962) is an excellent resource book describing HOW TO specify learning objectives and communicate the learning objectives to the learner.


1. Begin the objective with a measurable verb, such as define, classify, calculate, design, discuss, etc.
2. State the objective in terms of learner performance, not instructor performance. The emphasis
is on what the participant will be able to do or know, not what the instructor does.
3. State the objective as a learning product, not a learning process.
CORRECT: “explains assigned reading material ….”
INCORRECT: “gains knowledge of …..”
4. State the objective to include only one outcome, not several.
5. Write a separate statement for each objective; revise and refine for clarity and understanding.
6. State each objective to the extent that it communicates an instructional intent to its reader.

The following verbs have been found to be effective in formulating educational objectives.

1. Those that communicate knowledge. (Cognitive Domain)

cite identify quote relate tell
count indicate read repeat trace
define list recite select write
describe name recognize state
draw point record tabulate
associate describe explain locate translate
classify differentiate express predict
compare discuss extrapolate report
compute distinguish interpolate restate
contrast estimate interpret review
apply employ locate relate sketch
calculate examine operate report solve
complete illustrate order restate translate
demonstrate interpolate practice review use
dramatize interpret predict schedule utilize
analyze debate distinguish inventory
appraise detect experiment question
contract diagram infer separate
criticize differentiate inspect summarize
arrange construct formulate organize produce
assemble create generalize plan propose
collect design integrate prepare specify
compose detect manage prescribe
appraise determine judge recommend test
assess estimate measure revise
choose evaluate rank score
critique grade rate select

2. Those that impart skills. (Psychomotor Domain)

diagnose integrate measure percuss
empathize internalize palpate project
hold massage pass visualize

3. Those that convey attitudes. (Affective Domain)

acquire exemplify realize reflect
These verbs are better avoided: are often used but are open to many interpretations
appreciate have faith in know learn understand believe